Companies See Publicity Opportunity in Dropping Arbitration After #MeToo

by Julia Cardi

Facebook, Google and Uber have more in common than all being tech companies that have achieved dominance in Silicon Valley despite not existing two decades ago. Each has also announced this year that they will no longer require employees to agree to mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment claims. Facebook is the latest to make the announcement. Google had also made the change earlier this month after thousands of the company’s employees in offices across the world staged a walkout to protest the revelation that Android co-founder Andy Rubin received a $90 million exit package to leave the company in 2014 after a woman accused him of sexual misconduct.

But the move probably has less to do with corporations suddenly finding themselves on any shakier legal ground for compelling arbitration than with it being an easily implemented, PR-friendly way to jump on the #MeToo movement.

“It’s an easy ‘give’ in the sense that it’s a concrete change that can be implemented immediately,” said Rachel Arnow-Richman, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. She said companies shouldn’t get too much credit for the change because sexual harassment claims represent the tip of the iceberg of problems with workplace discrimination, and eliminating arbitration in only that context doesn’t affect compelled arbitration for other disputes.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the November 19, 2018 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.