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Google changes sexual harassment policies after walkout

People in Florida and across the U.S. have raised the alarm about sexual harassment at some of America's biggest companies, including tech giant Google. A recent worldwide walkout of Google employees came as a response to news that the company paid one leading employee $90 million in severance after he was accused of sexual assault. Following the walkout, the company's CEO distributed an email apology to employees, saying that the firm had not always properly handled its policies related to sexual harassment, discrimination and assault. The company also said that change would be forthcoming.

Another statement from the tech firm noted specific changes on the way, including altering Google's policies on mandatory arbitration. While the company previously required sexual harassment and assault claims to be handled by an arbitrator, that process will now be optional. In addition, the company pledged to publicize its regulations on discrimination, harassment, retaliation and workplace standards and create a uniform guide to investigations. Observers have noted, however, that these changes apply only to full-time employees, not to part-timers, contractors or temporary workers.

The Google CEO's email noted that the firm was planning to create additional services to support employees who have been subject to harassment and discrimination at work. It also planned to increase its offerings of counseling and other employee assistance services. The firm said that future employees reporting discrimination or harassment could bring a colleague with them when visiting HR and in the ensuing investigation process.

A growing spotlight has been placed on sexual harassment following the rise of the #MeToo movement. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also reported a 50 percent increase in complaints across the country. Workers can reach out for sexual harassment legal assistance when they want to file complaints or pursue further justice.

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