Facebook will no longer force employees to settle sexual harassment claims in private arbitration, following a similar change at Google yesterday, according to The Wall Street Journal. Facebook reportedly announced the news to employees internally today, and vice president of people Lori Goler told the Journal that it wants to “be part of taking the next step” at “a pivotal moment” in the tech industry. It also announced an updated policy on dating among employees, requiring executives to disclose any romantic relationship with another employee, even if they aren’t overseeing that employee’s work.
Several companies — including Microsoft, Uber, and Lyft — have dropped forced arbitration clauses from sexual harassment claims. But Google’s change was particularly high-profile because it was made after an estimated 20 percent of employees participated in a mass walkout protest last week. Arbitration was just one of the protesters’ demands, and their negotiations with Google remain ongoing.
Goler told the Journal that sexual harassment has been discussed widely within Facebook, but she apparently didn’t discuss any more sweeping changes to company policy. Facebook published its full internal harassment policy late last year, during the first months of the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment. However, Facebook defended its forced arbitration policy earlier this year, calling the process “official and appropriate.”
In a statement, corporate media relations director Anthony Harrison confirmed that Facebook was making arbitration optional. “Today, we are publishing our updated Workplace Relationships policy and amending our arbitration agreements to make arbitration a choice rather than a requirement in sexual harassment claims,” he told The Verge. “Sexual harassment is something that we take very seriously, and there is no place for it at Facebook.”
Update 6:20PM ET: Added statement from Facebook.