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Google announces revised sexual harassment claim procedures

Florida residents who follow developments in the technology sector may be aware that more than 20 percent of Google's global workforce of more than 94,000 people walked off the job in November 2018 because they were unhappy about the way sexual harassment claims were being handled. Google responded to the walkout by vowing to review its internal policies and make changes where appropriate. The search giant announced on April 25 that its review was complete and many worker demands would be met.

One of the workers' main grievances was the Google policy requiring sexual harassment claims to be resolved through arbitration. The company's chief executive officer responded at the time by announcing that arbitration would be made voluntary, and the recent announcement affirms this policy change and implements new sexual harassment reporting procedures. Google workers will now be able to report incidents using a dedicated website.

Google has also released its 13-page policy on workplace issues including sexual harassment claims. The document describes what the company considers to be harassment and how it investigates claims. However, fallout from the November 2018 walkouts continues to hamper the company. Two workers who helped to organize the protest recently claimed that Google retaliated against them by changing their work assignments. The company denies the allegation.

Attorneys who provide sexual harassment legal assistance may remind employers facing such claims about the severe consequences they could face for taking retaliatory action against workers who step forward. They might also point these consequences out to workers who have been sexually harassed but are reluctant to file a claim. When pursuing these cases, attorneys may urge employers to settle the claims against them discretely and avoid any potential harm to their reputations.

Source: The Verge, Google is changing how employees can report harassment and discrimination, Colin Lecher, April 25, 2019

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