Culture&Arts

Google Announces Detailed "Action Plan" To Handle Sexual Harassment Cases

Google Announces Detailed

Google on Thursday vowed to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual harassment cases, with CEO Sundar Pichai spelling out the concessions in an email Thursday to Google employees. That will now be optional, so workers can choose to sue in court and present their case in front of a jury.

Most impactful will be a shift away from forced arbitration, a highly-criticised practice that meant employees were contractually-bound to deal with complaints internally, in what some legal observers have described as being a "private justice system". The probe concluded that its rank had been poisoned by rampant sexual harassment.

"We demand a truly equitable culture", organizer Stephanie Parker wrote in response to Pichai's November 8 email, "and Google leadership can achieve this by putting employee representation on the board and giving full rights and protections to contract workers, our most vulnerable workers, many of whom are Black and Brown women". The changes don't fully extend to Google contractors, who make up a massive part of the company's workforce, said a spokesperson for the Tech Workers Coalition, which represents employees and contractors from different tech companies. Thursday's email was obtained by The Associated Press.

At the technology giant's London office near King's Cross station, a crowd of around 100 workers congregated outside.

The protest's organizers estimated about 17,000 workers participated in the walkout.

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.

Three found dead, young boy missing in Australian outback
This morning, police said a 12-year-old boy, who they believed was with the group, was not found among the dead. At the scene police found the bodies of a 19-year-old man, a 19-year-old woman and a three-year-old boy.

(He does not address discrimination claims.) The company will also begin providing more detailed information about the process and outcomes in sexual harassment investigations. The breakdowns will include the number of cases that were substantiated within various company departments and list the types of punishment imposed, including firings, pay cuts and mandated counselling.

The company is also stepping up its training aimed at preventing misconduct.

Skipping sexual harassment training will affect employees' performance reviews. Those who fall behind in their training, including top executives, will be dinged in their annual performance reviews, leaving a blemish that could lower their pay and make it more hard to get promoted.

Pichai committed to several of those changes, but a request to have an employee representative appointed to the board was not addressed. Employees will be able to help with the development of the guide and it will be updated regularly.

Organizers say they intend to meet with Google execs in pursuit of getting all - not just some - of their demands met.

The protests at Google earlier this month followed a New York Times report that the company in 2014 gave a $90 million exit package to a senior vice president, Andy Rubin, after he was accused of sexual harassment. Google reportedly found the allegation to be credible.