Some people in New York may have heard about accusations that some executives at Google engaged in sexual harassment or misconduct. As part of a new settlement, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is making dozens of updates to policies and is putting $310 million toward diversity measures. This follows accusations by shareholders that the leadership team did not handle complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment appropriately.
According to one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the settlement represents a shift away from Google’s defense that the problem was only with a few employees and addresses structural issues that allowed the harassment, discrimination and misconduct to thrive. Among the changes are revisions to disciplinary procedures, hiring processes, internal investigations and governance. Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they wanted the settlement to set an example for the entire tech industry.
Changes to NDAs and arbitration
Among the major changes are those dealing with non-disclosure agreements and arbitration policy. Previously, under the NDA, employees were forbidden from discussing discrimination and harassment cases. The new regulations under the settlement would allow this and would also let employees bring a support person along to report harassment and discrimination. In 2018, forced arbitration ended for full Google employees but not for other Alphabet workers. Under the new policies, arbitration would be optional for them as well.
It may be difficult for some employees to report workplace harassment or discrimination because they worry it will affect their career. People who are experiencing harassment or discrimination at work might want to consult an attorney to discuss their rights and the steps they should take. Usually, the first step is to follow the appropriate workplace channels to report the harassment. If the company does not conduct a satisfactory investigation or attempts to retaliate against the employee, additional legal steps may be necessary.