When an employee is the victim of harassment either by a coworker or superior, settling the case is often a complicated process of working through private arbitration to protect the identity of the victim while giving the company the best chance at maintaining its reputation. For many victims in Missouri, these efforts to provide both parties with protection may feel more like an effort to protect their employer without a second thought for the harassment they have endured.
However, with a drastic change to a long-standing policy in a recent discussion of sexual harassment in the workplace, it was determined that employees of some big employers such as Facebook, Google, Airbnb and eBay are now legally able to sue their employers if they have been the victim of sexual harassment. Google was the first company to rescind its previously mandatory requirement that private arbitration is used in cases where an employee was harassed. Facebook announced its decision to do the same thing just a day later with eBay and Airbnb following suit shortly after that.
While many applaud the changes, the companies have made regardless of whether they have done it to protect their employees or to escape negative publicity following situations such as the #MeToo movement, they acknowledge that it is merely a step in the right direction. The policy change only applies to people who have been sexually harassed and not those who are the victims of other types of discrimination and workplace issues. For employees who are working for an employer that requires private arbitration in situations where harassment has been an issue, they should be aware that signing any kind of agreement regarding their compliance with private arbitration is permanently relinquishing their ability to sue their employer if harassment does ever occur.
If people have been the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, they may benefit from the help of an attorney. Working with a qualified legal team may enable them to gather evidence that supports their claim that harassment did occur.
Source: CNBC, “Workers at Google, Facebook, eBay and Airbnb can now sue over sexual harassment – here’s what that means for employees,” Kerri Anne Renzulli, Nov. 19, 2018