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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Pending lawsuit tests Google's commitment to workplace fairness

One of California's most famous employers, Alphabet, has received accolades in recent weeks over their decision no longer to require employees to submit claims alleging discrimination to an arbitration process. Many people in the Fresno area probably recognize Alphabet as the parent company for Google.

Until recently, Google, like many other companies, made their applicants agree as a condition of their employment with Google to arbitrate employment discrimination claims. This policy forced employees into a process that many believe is stacked in an employer's favor. For those who are not familiar with it, arbitration involves a more free-for-all legal process in which a panel of experts review a matter and make a decision. Their decision will generally be respected by courts. Notably, if a claim goes to arbitration, an employee will not get the benefit of a jury trial.

After receiving pushback from their workers, Google decided to no longer require mandatory arbitration, meaning victims of discrimination at Google can exercise their rights to sue in the courts. However, this policy only applies to people currently working at Google and those who joined the company after March 21.

A current discrimination case against Google may well test the tech giant's overall commitment to letting employees have their day in court. This case involves a recruiter whom Google fired in October 2018. She alleges that the firing was due to disability discrimination, as she had a problem with her nervous system that affected her performance. Her allegations suggest Google did nothing to accommodate her condition. In fact, many of her allegations are quite troubling, especially since Google prides itself on being a progressive workplace. Employees at such companies should remember that they do have important legal rights if they are discriminated against.

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