Google employees won a battle against forced arbitration. Now they’re pushing for nationwide legislation.

By Shirin Ghaffary

A walkout can accomplish a lot.
Mason Trinca / Getty Images

Several Google employees joined members of Congress and other activists today in support of legislation that would end forced arbitration, a practice that denies employees the right to take their employer to court in the case of a workplace dispute such as sexual harassment.

Last week, in a big win for a group of employees that had been pressuring the company, Google ended forced arbitration for the workers it directly employs, but not necessarily for the 50 percent of its workforce who are contracted through third-party companies. Google followed a wave of other tech companies that have limited their use of forced arbitration in light of concerns that it denies workers their right to pursue cases against their employers in a fair and public trial.

Members of Congress introduced two bills that would end forced arbitration: The Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, sponsored by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), as well as the Restoring Justice for Workers Act (RJFWA), sponsored by Rep. Nadler and Rep. Scott.

“No worker is safe until all workers are safe. No consumers are empowered until all consumers are empowered,” said Tanuja Gupta, one of the organizers of the Google Walkout and a member of the spinout group End Forced Arbitration at a press conference in DC announcing today’s legislation. “We call on Congress to quickly pass the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act.”

Other speakers included former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who made waves as a leader of the #MeToo movement when she shared her story of being sexually harassed at the TV network, and being limited in seeking justice because of a forced arbitration clause in her employment contract.

Carlson mentioned Microsoft, Uber, Lyft, Google, and Vox Media* as examples of companies that have taken leadership in ending forced arbitration, and called on other companies to do the same.

Sen. Blumenthal concluded the remarks by warning companies that Congress will not hesitate to take action if they don’t change.

“We’re not willing to wait for corporate America to do the right thing,” he said.

* Vox Media, which owns Recode, ended its practice of forced arbitration earlier this week.