Facebook is the latest tech company to end mandatory arbitration for sexual misconduct claims. This follows on the heels of Google’s decision to do so on November 8. Microsoft, eBay, and Airbnb recently announced similar policies.
These new regulations replace the old way of handling the claims, which was done through private, forced arbitration. This was seen as allowing the guilty parties and their employers to avoid responsibility and resulting consequences.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is similar to mediation; it is another way to resolve a dispute between two parties. An arbitrator listens to both sides of the story, evaluates the facts, and reaches a decision.
There are two kinds of arbitration: voluntary and mandatory.
When voluntary, the two parties agree of their own free will to allow the disagreement to go into arbitration. They can also consider different options for resolving the issue.
Forced arbitration is when a company requires the worker to have the problem addressed by a private arbitrator as a condition of their employment. The decision cannot be reversed, and the employee forfeits their right to appeal, sue, or join a class action lawsuit.
Forced arbitration clauses can be found in employment contracts; but employees may be unaware that they are there when signing. Other names for these clauses include “dispute resolution mechanism” and “binding mandatory arbitration.” Their widespread use is due to the fact that they offer companies protection from legal action.
What This Means for Employees
With these changes in effect, employees will be free to take their claims to court. They will no longer be forced to keep the matter private.
Facebook’s new policy also requires certain company officials to share the information with their human resources department.
These new policies should benefit company employees who fall victim to workplace sexual misconduct. Now, they will be entitled to sue their employers for cases of sexual harassment and other violations like racial discrimination.
In forced arbitration proceedings, employees are not as likely to win; if they do, they could get less compensation. Keeping the cases from going to court allowed these companies to avoid more serious penalties, and kept the accusations under wraps.
Airbnb addressed the sweeping reforms in a statement last week. They indicated that they have reconsidered the forced arbitration policy, and feel that the new policy is better for their workers and the overall work environment.
eBay’s head of Corporate Communications made similar remarks, saying that the changes are more in-line with eBay’s goal to promote direct and honest communications in their workplace.
The Facebook Director of Corporate Media Relations let employees know that the company revised their Workplace Relationships policy, and emphasized that the company takes the issue of workplace sexual misconduct very seriously.
Middletown Sexual Harassment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Protect Victims of Workplace Sexual Misconduct
You do not have to put up with sexual harassment at work. Changes are being made at many companies, but the fight is not over yet. If you need legal representation for a workplace sexual harassment case, do not hesitate to contact the Middletown sexual harassment lawyers at our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us online. We represent clients in Cherry Hill, Middletown, and across New Jersey.