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A group of Google employees are calling on tech workers to band together to end forced arbitration

The practice is still prevalent across the tech industry despite recent criticism and some limitations on its use in cases of sexual harassment.

Google employees walking through a glass door under a sign reading “Google.” Dan Kitwood / Getty
Shirin Ghaffary is a senior Vox correspondent covering the social media industry. Previously, Ghaffary worked at BuzzFeed News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch.

Last month, when 20,000 Google employees walked out of work, their first demand was an end to a practice that prevents workers from taking their employer to court over issues like sexual harassment.

That practice, called forced arbitration, requires employees to settle disputes in-house rather in the courts. Studies show that forced arbitration generally favors employers and tends, on average, to result in lower worker payouts compared to court cases. Following the walkout, Google dropped forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and assault — but not in other types of cases, and only for full-time employees.

But Google isn’t the only company that makes its employees resolve certain disputes this way — several other major tech firms still have the practice in some form.

Today, a group of Google employees, including one of the organizers of the walkout, are rallying tech workers at other firms to come together to help put a stop to that. They’ve formed a new group called “Googlers for Ending Forced Arbitration” that aims to provide a tech-wide coalition among employees at different companies.

“Today we ask all our fellow workers industry-wide to join our fight to end forced arbitration,” reads an open letter published on Medium. “2019 must be the year to end a system of privatized justice that impacts over 60 million workers in the US alone.”

Since the walkout, organizers at Google say they’ve heard from tech workers at over 15 other major tech companies about their experiences with forced arbitration.

The letter today links to a sign-up form for workers interested in joining the group. The form lists several major tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, Uber and Airbnb, as suggested options to choose as employees’ place of work. The letter also lends its support to two pieces of legislation in the U.S. Congress that could limit forced arbitration nationally, the Arbitration Fairness Act by Senator Richard Blumenthal and Restoring Justice for Workers Act by Representative Jerrold Nadler.

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