Will the #GoogleWalkout Change How Tech Companies Handle Harassment Claims?

In October 2018, The New York Times broke news that angered many people in the tech industry. After resigning due to allegations of sexual misconduct, Andy Rubin—co-creator of the Android operating system—was paid a $90 million exit package. Though Google found the accusations to be credible, the company still paid Rubin, and he wasn’t the only misbehaving employee to receive a pay day.

How Did the #GoogleWalkout Start?

The Times report further outlined how several other Google executives and employees were paid to resign after accusations of misconduct. Google employees were outraged, though not surprised. Rumors of ineffective sexual harassment policies have plagued the company. However, many Google employees kept silent due to forced arbitration agreements and fear of retaliation, until now.

On November 1, over 20,000 Google employees walked out of their offices to protest the company’s sexual harassment policies. Dubbed the #GoogleWalkout, the event is being hailed as a revolution when it comes to protesting corporate misbehavior. Only a few days after the Rubin report was published, employees rallied using social media. They also compiled a list of demands that was delivered to the company CEO Sundar Pichai.

Will the #GoogleWalkout Have an Effect on the Tech Industry?

In response, the CEO initially pointed to 48 former employees who were dismissed without severance packages. However, employees were not satisfied by this claim, and Pichai delivered an apology for the company’s behavior. The day after the #GoogleWalkout, Google announced several changes to the way it would handle sexual harassment claims in the future.

The company will update and expand its sexual harassment training and will no longer force employees into arbitration to settle claims. These changes, though they don’t address all the #GoogleWalkout demands, have had an affect of the entire tech industry. Airbnb and Facebook have both ended forced arbitration in sexual harassment claims as a result of the walkout.

This opens up new possibilities for the survivors of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley and across the entire tech industry. Employees who were formerly trapped in arbitration by their employment contract can now pursue legal options in court. If you have more questions about these legal options, contact Kesluk, Silverstein, Jacob & Morrison, P.C. at (310) 997-4431. We are California employment lawyers helping survivors find justice after harassment.

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