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Employment law: Google, Facebook unfriend mandatory arbitration

Employment disputes can be time-consuming and costly, something that many Wisconsin companies want to avoid. Because of this, forced arbitration has long been a part of how businesses deal with employment law issues. Now, some tech giants are leading the way in getting rid of arbitration, making it easier for employees to not only bring forth serious issues, but to also receive necessary recourse.

Google recently announced that it will no longer require mandatory arbitration for harassment claims. Not to be outdone, Facebook made the same announcement only a day later, with eBay and Airbnb following suit soon after. These moves were not necessarily made because the companies wanted to make an uninitiated show of goodwill, but likely in response to worker protests over the process. A Nov. 2018 walkout over Google's handling of sexual misconduct claims occurred only a week before the company announced the policy change.

Mandatory arbitration benefits companies far more than it does employees. However, arbitration clauses are usually featured in paperwork that new hires are required to sign in order to work. These clauses not only require employees to have matters resolved by an arbitrator rather than a judge, but also usually cap damages, add on expensive fees and impose strict timelines for bringing forth claims.

Tech companies often set the example for how businesses operate in Wisconsin and across the rest of the nation. For victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, this could be an important change. However, dealing with employment law matters can be confusing and overwhelming, and most companies have experts on their side and ready to go. As such, when moving forward with a claim, it is usually a good idea to first seek guidance from an experienced attorney.

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