Employment contracts often include clauses to protect a company — both its intellectual property and also its reputation. Nondisclosure agreements, which are used to protect company trade secrets, will sometimes include a non-disparagement clause to keep employees from speaking negatively about a company. Forced arbitration agreements take this a step further by not allowing workers to take their employers to court regarding any workplace dispute. Forced arbitration is a common tool that companies use to keep workplace misconduct out of the public eye.
Last December, the New York Times reported that Microsoft eliminated forced arbitration agreements with employees who make sexual harassment claims. In February, Gizmodo contacted 10 large tech companies to find out how common forced arbitrations agreements are in the tech industry. Most of the companies either did not comment or failed to comment in time, but Facebook confirmed that the company does require forced arbitration for all disputes between an employee and the company.
We reached out to our community of tech workers, many of whom may be bound by forced arbitration agreements themselves, to find out what they think about the matter. From September 12 through 19, we asked the following question on our app: “Should companies end forced arbitration provisions in employee contracts?” Among the 5,562 users that replied, 71.49 percent replied “Yes” and the remaining 28.51 percent said “No.”
We also broke down the survey results by company and found roughly the same results. Among the 16 companies that tallied up with the most survey responses, the majority of employees from each company said they would like to see forced arbitration provisions removed from contracts. From Oracle, 78.43 percent of surveyed employees want forced arbitration agreements to come to an end. Google and Salesforce closely follow with over 77 percent.
Ending forced arbitration will help level the playing field between employees and companies when settling workplace disputes, but until that time comes, it’s up to employees to learn how to handle their workplace concerns in a manner that will produce the best results.
If you’d like to learn about your legal rights and find out strategies for dealing with discrimination, harassment, and other issues, join our discussion about workplace rights this Wednesday night. You can RSVP through Eventbrite.