Airbnb, eBay end forced arbitration of sex harassment claims

By Nicholas Sakelaris

Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Airbnb and eBay have joined Google and Facebook as the latest tech giants to end forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims.

That means employees cannot be forced to settle workplace harassment claims privately as a condition of employment. Critics say too often, forced arbitration protects high-profile tech executives from embarrassing claims.


"We are a company who believes that in the 21st Century it is important to continually consider and reconsider the best ways to support our employees and strengthen our workplace," an Airbnb spokesman said in a statement. "From the beginning, we have sought to build a culture of integrity and respect, and today's changes are just one more step to drive belonging and integrity in our workplace."

Online marketplace eBay made a similar announcement Monday.

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"eBay takes great pride in fostering an inclusive culture that allows employees to feel comfortable and encouraged to report any workplace issues," the company said. "We've adjusted our existing employee policy regarding sexual harassment claims to better reflect and encourage eBay's values of being open, honest and direct."

It was a New York Times article last month that brought attention to the issue at Google.


Google employees responded with a worldwide walkout on Nov. 1 in protest of several high-level executives accused of sexual harassment and the company keeping them secret while giving out multi-million dollar severance packages. That includes Andy Rubin's $90 million severance package in 2014.

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A week after the walkout, Google CEO Sundar Pichai ended forced arbitration. On Nov. 10, Facebook followed Google's lead, eliminating forced arbitration.

"I think it's the pebble that starts the avalanche. This is very meaningful," employment attorney Chris Baker told the New York Times.

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