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Google will end forced arbitration for employees

This comes after employees protested Google's handling of sexual harassment cases.

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Google will reportedly end forced arbitration for employees. 

Tobias Schwarz / AFP/Getty Images

Google on Thursday said it'll no longer require current and future staff to go through mandatory arbitration for disputes with the company. 

The change goes into effect on March 21. The search giant will also remove mandatory arbitration from its own employment agreements with contract and temporary staff, though the change won't impact staffing firms. Axios earlier reported the change. 

The news comes after Google employees in November walked out of their offices to protest the company's handling of sexual harassment claims. One of organizers' demands was to end forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and discrimination. After the protest, Google dropped arbitration requirements for sexual harassment claims, but organizers said the change didn't go far enough. Thursday's announcement marks an end to the practice altogether for Google employees.

"This victory never would have happened if workers hadn't banded together, supported one another, and walked out," Google walkout organizers wrote in a tweet Thursday. "Collective action works. Worker power works. This is still just the beginning."

Google also said it would drop arbitration requirements from agreements with its contractors, vendors and temporary workers. However, the search giant noted it doesn't control the employment agreements those workers have with their temp agencies. 

Mandatory arbitration often means workers can't take their employers to court when they complain internally. The campaign organizers said 60 million Americans are affected by forced arbitration.

Other tech giants have made similar moves. Uber in May dropped all arbitration agreements it had with riders, drivers and staff over individual claims of sexual assault or harassment. The ride-hailing giant also ended confidentiality provisions that prevented victims from speaking out. Facebook in November said it will no longer force staff to settle sexual harassment claims through private arbitration. 

In January, some Google employees launched a social media campaign to pressure the company and other tech companies to drop mandatory arbitration. On Thursday, the group commended Google's decision, but said it's "not stopping there." The group said it's fighting to end forced arbitration for all workers. 

First published on Feb. 21, 1:18 p.m. PT.
Update, 2:34 p.m. PT: Adds more information from Google; and 4:45 p.m. PT: Adds more context.