Google bows to worker pres­sure

Porterville Recorder - - NEWS - By MICHAEL LIEDTKE

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Google is promis­ing to be more force­ful and open about its han­dling of sex­ual mis­con­duct cases, a week af­ter thou­sands of high-paid engi­neers and oth­ers walked out in protest over its male-dom­i­nated cul­ture.

Google bowed to one of the pro­test­ers' main de­mands by drop­ping manda­tory ar­bi­tra­tion of all sex­ual mis­con­duct cases. That will now be op­tional, so work­ers can choose to sue in court and present their case in front of a jury. It mir­rors a change made by ride-hail­ing ser­vice Uber af­ter com­plaints from its fe­male em­ploy­ees prompted an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The probe con­cluded that its rank had been poi­soned by ram­pant sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

"Google's lead­ers and I have heard your feed­back and have been moved by the sto­ries you've shared," CEO Sun­dar Pichai said in an email to Google em­ploy­ees. "We rec­og­nize 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." Thurs­day's email was ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Last week, the tech giant's work­ers left their cu­bi­cles in dozens of of­fices around the world to protest what they con­sider man­age­ment's lax treat­ment of top ex­ec­u­tives and other male work­ers ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and other mis­con­duct. The protest's or­ga­niz­ers es­ti­mated that about 20,000 work­ers par­tic­i­pated.

The re­forms are the lat­est fall­out from a broader so­ci­etal back­lash against men's ex­ploita­tion of their fe­male sub­or­di­nates in busi­ness, en­ter­tain­ment and pol­i­tics — a move­ment that has spawned the "Metoo" hash­tag as a sign of unity and a call for change.

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