Employees at four tech giants can now take their companies to court to pursue workplace sexual harassment claims, instead of being forced to settle such claims through private arbitration, thanks to policy changes announced in the past week.
Google, the first company in this recent wave to undo its mandatory arbitration clause for harassment, made the move Nov. 8 to appease outraged workers, who had days before staged a 20,000-employee walkout worldwide over the company's handling of sexual misconduct allegations. Facebook followed suit on Nov. 9.
Last week, both Airbnb and eBay said they too would be ending the controversial legal practice, which has come under fire in the #MeToo era for protecting serial harassers and silencing victims.
"Whether companies have done this in good faith to better help victims or, if you're more cynical, to avoid backlash and negative publicity, it is a good move for employees," says Imre Szalai, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans who is an expert in arbitration issues and author of "Outsourcing Justice: The Rise of Modern Arbitration Laws in America."
Mandatory or forced arbitration, Szalai tells CNBC Make It, is typically a raw deal for employees.