The walkout comes on the heels of the #MeToo movement.
On November 1, 2018, more than 20,000 Google employees walked out of their workplace. It was not a company-wide fire drill. Instead, it was a protest of the way that the company handles sexual harassment complaints — and what employees say is systemic discrimination.
The walkout was sparked by a report in the New York Times that revealed that Google had given a $90 million severance package to former executive Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile software. Mr. Rubin had left the company in 2014. At the time, Google claimed that Mr. Rubin was pursuing other ventures. The New York Times report revealed that Google asked Mr. Rubin to resign after an investigation revealed that Mr. Rubin had coerced a female subordinate into performing sex acts on him at a hotel room. Previously, Google had docked Mr. Rubin’s bonus when it discovered that he kept sexually graphic videos on his work computer. While Mr. Rubin’s termination was a method of protecting its employees, offering him a massive severance package and covering up his alleged abuses outraged employees and the public alike.
While the walkout was motivated by the revelations about Mr. Rubin, there are a number of issues at Google that played a role. Only 31% of employees at Google are women, and only 25.5% of its executives are women. At the time, Google also required its employees to submit to private arbitration, including for sexual harassment and assault. Although arbitration is a common practice in many employment disputes, it is often confidential and tends to favor employers. Since the walkout, Google announced that it would end the practice of forced arbitration for claims of sexual assault or harassment. Importantly, other technology companies, including Facebook, Airbnb and eBay, followed Google’s lead and ended their own arbitration agreements for sexual harassment claims.
For most employees, staging a 20,000 person mass walkout to protest workplace discrimination is not an option. However, there are choices if your workplace has a toxic culture where discrimination and harassment are permitted to thrive. One option for bringing about change is through a legal claim. Although it is not a viable option in every case, a skilled sexual harassment attorney can work with you to determine if you have a potential claim. In many situations, it is only when a company is forced to reckon with a public lawsuit and the potential for a large settlement or jury award that they make changes to their workplace policy and culture.
At PLBSH, our sexual harassment attorneys have more than 40 years of experience representing victims of workplace harassment and discrimination. We strongly believe that everyone deserves to work in a safe environment, free from all types of abuse and harassment. If you have experienced discrimination, assault, or harassment, contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or email@example.com to schedule a consultation with a sexual harassment attorney.