Can Tech Pros Really End Forced Arbitration?

Earlier this month, a handful of Google employees published a Medium posting in which they asked their employer to end forced arbitration for good.

The posting is a follow-up of sorts to November’s massive Google employee walkout, which was designed to protest corporate inequality and sexual harassment. Employees participating in that walkout offered up a list of demands, including an end to forced arbitration for the entire Google workforce.

Although Google promised to meet many of the demands, the protestors feel the company waffled on the forced arbitration bit by making it optional for full-time employees. “Temps, vendors and contracts (TVCs) compose over 50 [percent] of our workforce, but might still be forced into arbitration in all cases, including sexual harassment / assault, based on their Supplier’s employment terms,” the protestors wrote in this new Medium posting. “Arbitration is still forced for any case of discrimination related to race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability.”

But these protestors don’t want to just end forced arbitration at Google; they want the entire tech industry to stop relying on it.

In the wake of Google’s bending to the walkout’s demands, a handful of large tech firms agreed to end forced arbitration, including Facebook, Airbnb, and eBay. “We’re proud that these changes will allow employees to choose how to resolve their concerns and believe this is the right thing to do for our employee community,” Airbnb wrote in a statement in November.

Earlier this year, Blind, which conducts anonymous surveys of the tech industry, asked its community how they felt about ending forced arbitration provisions in employee contracts. Around 71.49 percent said that such provisions should end, while only 28.51 percent said they should remain. (Some 5,562 people responded to the survey, which ran from Sept. 12 through 19.)

In other words, it seems that usage and enforcement of forced arbitration is on the decline. It’s not dead yet, but employees and employers alike seem to realize that it’s a bad look. While not all companies will give it up, expect that more will do so in the coming year, especially if employees keep the pressure up.