Google employees to launch social media campaign on sexual harassment policies after previous protests brought 'no meaningful gains for worker equity'

Key Points
  • Google employees are launching a social media campaign Tuesday to educate the public about forced arbitration and pressure tech companies to end it.
  • Thousands of Google employees walked out of offices in November after The New York Times reported that Android creator Andy Rubin was paid a $90 million exit package in 2014 after credible sexual harassment claims were brought against him.
  • Google has since said it will make arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and assault optional.
Workers stand outside the Google offices after walking out as part of a global protest over workplace issues, in London, England, on Nov. 1, 2018.
Toby Melville | Reuters

Google employees, who walked out of offices around the world in November in protest of sexual harassment policies, are extending their critiques to the rest of the industry. The organizers are launching a social media campaign Tuesday to educate the public and protest the issue of forced arbitration by tech companies.

The November protest was prompted by an Oct. 25 New York Times report that said Android creator Andy Rubin had allegedly been given a $90 million exit package in 2014 after credible sexual assault allegations had been brought against him.

In response to protesters' demands, Google told employees that arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and assault claims will be made optional. But Google's response didn't go far enough, organizers wrote in a Medium post on Monday announcing the social media campaign. 

"The change yielded a win in the headlines, but provided no meaningful gains for worker equity … nor any actual change in employee contracts or future offer letters," they wrote, adding that as of the post's publication, "Google is still sending out offer letters with the old arbitration policy."

Google did not immediately return a request for comment.

From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the organizers will share facts about forced arbitration on Twitter every hour on the hour, and interviews with sexual assault survivors and experts on Instagram every hour on the half hour, according to the Medium post.

Organizers researched contracts of about 30 major tech companies and 10 contract employee suppliers leading up to the campaign, Recode reported. But none of the companies reviewed met their expectations for protecting the rights of employees to bring workplace issues to the courts, according to Recode.

According to a study reviewing the outcomes of arbitration cases between 2003 and 2007, the number of cases won by employees tended to be lower in arbitration than in the courts, and the amount employees were awarded when they did win was lower on average in arbitration cases than in the courts.

The Google organizers said their fight against forced arbitration is an important step in advancing workplace equity overall.

"Ending forced arbitration is the gateway change needed to transparently address inequity in the workplace," the organizers wrote.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.

Watch: Google employees walk out to protest the handling of sexual harassment allegations

Google employees stage global walkout and ask for accountability
Google employees stage global walkout and ask for accountability