Google pro­test­ers win ha­rass­ment cam­paign

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligence - By Margi Mur­phy in San Fran­cisco

GOOGLE will end its pol­icy of forc­ing work­ers to sign away their right to take a sex­ual ha­rass­ment case to court in a win for the 20,000 em­ploy­ees who last week staged a protest over al­leged pay­outs to preda­tory ex­ec­u­tives.

Googlers, the nick­name the Sil­i­con Val­ley giant gives its staff, have un­til now had to waive their right to take a claim pub­lic upon ac­cept­ing a job. Now ar­bi­tra­tion – of­ten a quicker way to set­tle em­ploy­ment dis­putes – will be op­tional, ac­cord­ing to an email sent to em­ploy­ees yes­ter­day.

Sun­dar Pichai, the chief ex­ec­u­tive, wrote: “Over the past few weeks Google’s lead­ers and I have heard your feed­back and have been moved by the sto­ries you’ve shared. We recog­nise that we have not al­ways got­ten ev­ery­thing right in the past and we are sin­cerely sorry for that. It’s clear we need to make some changes.

“Go­ing for­ward, we will pro­vide more trans­parency on how we han­dle con­cerns. We’ll give bet­ter sup­port and care to the peo­ple who raise them. And we will dou­ble down on our com­mit­ment to be a rep­re­sen­ta­tive, eq­ui­table, and re­spect­ful work­place.”

An es­ti­mated 20,000 Google em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors took part in the protests across 50 cities world­wide on Nov 1. Sev­eral fe­male em­ploy­ees shared their sto­ries, claim­ing their al­le­ga­tions had largely fallen on deaf ears. The marches were prompted by a re­port in The New York Times that al­leged Andy Ru­bin, the cre­ator of An­droid, was handed $90m (£69m) to leave qui­etly af­ter he was ac­cused of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing an­other em­ployee. Mr Ru­bin has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

It was also claimed that Richard DeVaul, for­mer boss of Google’s se­cre­tive “X” depart­ment re­spon­si­ble for driver­less cars and in­ter­net bal­loons, had also been ac­cused of ha­rass­ment. He re­signed af­ter the story was pub­lished.

Mr Pichai told work­ers that 48 em­ploy­ees had been sacked for sex­ual ha­rass­ment in the past two years but that none of them had re­ceived sim­i­lar pay­ments to Ru­bin.

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