Tech employees battle forced arbitration in discrimination cases

A group of technology employees from companies like Google continue to apply public pressure on employers that force people to sign away their rights to sue or participate in class-action lawsuits as a condition of employment. Many employees in Texas likely work under contracts that force them into arbitration when they have complaints about sexual harassment or discrimination on the job. The workers' rights activists have planned a day-long social media campaign to highlight how arbitration favors employers and promotes harassment and discrimination.

Researchers have determined that employees have a lower chance of winning cases against employers through arbitration compared to addressing complaints in court. The minority of complainants who win settlements from employers through arbitration also tend to receive lower payouts than those who pursue litigation.

A mass protest by Google employees in November 2018 resulted in the company amending its practices to exclude forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment or assault. Activists now want companies to remove arbitration as the sole option for people hurt by other workplace problems like racial or religious discrimination. The activists have determined that 40 major technology companies and staffing agencies have contracts that limit employees' rights.

When a person suffers from sexual harassment or other forms of workplace discrimination, an employer will typically strive to deflect responsibility. A consultation with an attorney may inform a person about the contract terms that could influence the outcome of a complaint. To prepare the case, an attorney may organize evidence of the person's mistreatment at work. Legal representation might enable a person to challenge an employer's false claims of innocence during either arbitration or litigation.

Source: Recode, "Google employees are launching a social media blitz to pressure tech giants on workplace harassment issues", Shirin Ghaffary , Jan. 14, 2019

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