Google Ends Forced Arbitration for Sexual Misconduct Claims After Employee Walkout

“It’s clear we need to make some changes,” Google chief Sundar Pichai says

Google announced several key changes to how the company handles sexual harassment claims on Thursday, including the termination of forced arbitration, after thousands of employees participated in a walkout last week.

“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,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to employees.

The tech giant will “provide more granularity around sexual harassment investigations,” he said, and outlined the three ways how company has revamped reporting sexual misconduct: bringing its harassment reporting channels under one roof and adding live support; offering “extra care and resources,” like counseling, to employees before and after filing their claims; and enhancing the “processes we use to handle concerns — including the ability for Googlers to be accompanied by a support person.”

Google will also end its policy of forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims — one of the major reforms walkout organizers called for last week in The Cut. The company has also updated and expanded its mandatory sexual harassment training, Pichai said.

The changes come one week after more than 20,000 employees, from Tokyo to London to company headquarters in Mountain View, California, walked out to protest Google’s handling of sexual harassment. Employees were responding to a New York Times report Google shielded Android co-founder Andy Rubin after an employee said that he “coerced” her into having oral sex — deciding to publicly praise him and award him a $90 million exit package when he left the company in 2014. A rep for Rubin disputed the report to the Times, saying  “any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual.”

Pichai, in a staff email shared with TheWrap following the report, said Google had fired 48 people in the last two years for sexual harassment. Thirteen of those workers were “senior managers and above,” according to the email. Pichai said he was “dead serious” about making the company a safe place for workers.