Facebook to End Forced Arbitration for Sexual-Harassment Claims

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Facebook has moved to set new policies in line with the expectations of tech workers, said Lori Goler, vice president of people at the social networking company.

Facebook has moved to set new policies in line with the expectations of tech workers, said Lori Goler, vice president of people at the social networking company.


Photo:

Michael Short/Bloomberg News

Facebook
Inc.


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is ending its policy of requiring employee sexual-harassment claims to be settled in private arbitration, a day after Google rolled back a similar policy under rising pressure from employees.

The rule change, which will let Facebook employees pursue those claims in court, was announced in an internal post to staff on Friday, a spokesman for the company said. The social networking giant has also updated its interoffice dating policy to require any executive at a director level or above to disclose if they are dating someone in the company.

Businesses are facing growing pressure from shareholders, advocacy groups, and their own employees to take greater care with how they treat accusations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Google updated its policy one week after thousands of its employees staged a walkout at offices around the world to protest the company’s handling of sexual-harassment claims against senior executives.

Facebook has moved quickly to set new policies in line with the expectations of tech workers, said Lori Goler, vice president of people at the social networking company.

“There’s no question that we’re at a pivotal moment,” Ms. Goler said in an interview. “This is a time when we can be part of taking the next step.”

While Facebook employees haven’t staged their own protests, the topic of sexual harassment has increasingly been discussed inside the company, she said.

Facebook and Google followed

Microsoft
Corp.

and Uber Technologies Inc. to scrap mandated arbitration, a widespread but controversial practice that prevents U.S. workers from suing their employers in open court. Companies prefer arbitration for sexual-harassment claims because it tends to yield quicker settlements at a lower cost than class-action suits and may spare companies from bad publicity.

Facebook allows employees to date co-workers—but if the relationship involves someone in their direct line of reporting, they must disclose it to human resources. The new policy goes beyond that by requiring senior executives to disclose such relationships even outside the direct lines of reporting. The company published its harassment policy publicly for the first time last year and posted its full dating policy Friday afternoon.

Write to Douglas MacMillan at douglas.macmillan@wsj.com

Appeared in the November 10, 2018, print edition as ‘As Pressure Mounts, Facebook Ends Policy Requiring Arbitration for Harassment Claims.’