Change, inspired by the #MeToo movement, appears to be contagious.
Facebook will suspend its policy of forcing employees to present sexual misconduct claims at a secret legal proceeding known as arbitration, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Now, employees will be able to file public lawsuits against the company and accusers instead of settling the matters internally.
The new policy from Facebook comes one day after the same announcement from Google. CEO Sundar Pichai announced a host of new changes regarding the way it handles sexual misconduct complaints in an email to employees. That came one week after 20,000 Google employees walked out to protest Google’s history with sexual misconduct cases, including giving Android creator Andy Rubin a $90 million payout after he was accused of sexual harassment.
Facebook has also changed its “workplace relationships policy”. Now, all senior employees will have to disclose if they are dating a fellow Facebook employee, whether or not they’re within the same chain of command. Facebook first made its harassment policy public in 2017 as discussions about sexual misconduct at tech companies took center stage.
“We believe that the more companies are open about their policies, the more we can all learn from one another,” a Facebook representative told Mashable over email. “Today, we are publishing our updated Workplace Relationships policy and amending our arbitration agreements to make arbitration a choice rather than a requirement in sexual harassment claims. Sexual harassment is something that we take very seriously and there is no place for it at Facebook.”
In 2015, a former Facebook employee sued Facebook for wrongful termination after she said she was fired for reporting sexual harassment. She subsequently settled out of court, according to CNN. Facebook has not recently faced high-profile sexual misconduct accusations in the same way that Google, Tinder, or Uber have. Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, who blew the whistle over sexual harassment at the company, has been an influential figure in the push to get rid of forced arbitration. Uber and Lyft both did away with forced arbitration in cases of sexual misconduct by their drivers in May of this year.
However, forced arbitration is still very much alive and well within the tech industry for settling other complaints. In 2015, a former WeWork employee sued because she claimed she was fired for refusing to sign an arbitration clause, and for talking to contractors about overtime and other workers’ rights.
As the #MeToo movement shakes the tech industry, some companies seem to want to be on the side of change.
Which tech titan will be next?