Google Lawyer Says Sexual Misconduct Policy Change “Does Not Apply Retroactively To Claims”

A lawyer for Loretta Lee, the ex-Google software engineer who filed a sexual harassment, gender discrimination, as well as wrongful termination suit against her former employer earlier This kind of year, told BuzzFeed News in which a Google attorney “reneged” on the company’s recent announcement to end forced arbitration, saying the policy change might not apply to her ongoing case.

“the item’s bizarre,” Richard Hoyer, Lee’s lawyer, told BuzzFeed News. “Google says, ‘We will not force employees into arbitration,’ as well as [the] response to me taking them up on in which can be, ‘Oh, we didn’t say when.’ the item was a shock to see Google renege on the announcement in which [the company] went through a lot of effort to publicize.”

An email reviewed by BuzzFeed News showed in which Google lawyer Brian Johnsrud told Hoyer last Friday, “Google announced a prospective policy change in which applies going forward to individual sex harassment as well as sex assault claims. This kind of policy change does not apply retroactively to claims already compelled to arbitration.”

Google told BuzzFeed News in which there are a smaller number of cases in which were either already settled in arbitration, or compelled into arbitration, where the company’s sexual misconduct policy change wouldn’t apply. The company added in which its policy change applies to anything not in arbitration already, as well as applies to both former as well as current employees.

The Lee case was compelled into arbitration in September. nevertheless Hoyer, Lee’s lawyer, told BuzzFeed News there still might have been time to appeal the court’s order compelling arbitration when, on the day of the company’s announcement in which the item might end forced arbitration, he contacted Google’s lawyer to say Lee elected not to arbitrate her claims. According to emails reviewed by BuzzFeed News, Google’s attorney waited over a week to send a reply stating in which the company might still force arbitration for her case; Hoyer said the item was the very last day Lee could have appealed.

Many major tech companies have, until recently, preferred to force employees to settle sexual harassment claims in private arbitration, a policy in which shields a firm through workers airing their grievances in open court, as well as also tends to result in lower-cost settlements. inside past, mandated arbitration has silenced women through speaking out about their experiences of harassment. nevertheless when thousands of Google employees staged walkouts around the planet This kind of month to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment claims against senior executives, Google conceded to a partial end to mandatory arbitration — for individual sexual harassment as well as sexual assault claims. (The company has said nothing about discrimination, wage as well as hour disputes, or some other claims.)

Loretta Lee’s suit can be one of the higher profile cases against the technology giant. In her suit, filed in February 2018, she alleges the company’s “bro-culture” led to daily harassment, as well as Google did nothing to intervene. Her lawsuit states in which male coworkers spiked her drinks with alcohol; in which one male coworker messaged her to ask for a “horizontal hug”; as well as in which at a holiday party, a drunk male coworker slapped her. In another incident, Lee says she found a male coworker hiding under her desk as well as “believed he may have installed some type of camera or similar device under her desk,” according to the lawsuit.

The email exchange between Lee’s lawyer as well as Google’s lawyer showed in which in October, Lee — through her lawyer — sought to negotiate a monetary settlement with Google. Johnsrud, the Google lawyer, told Hoyer at the time, “I was surprised to receive your voicemail generating a settlement demand after Ms. Lee has tried to trash Google inside press as well as avoid arbitration.” Johnsrud went on to say in which unless Lee substantially reduced her settlement demand, Google might prefer to proceed with arbitration.

In a blog post in March, Lee criticized the tech industry for a stark as well as systemic gender imbalance, though she did not mention the details of her suit against Google. “The reason there are so few women in tech,” she wrote, “can be because the item sucks to be a woman in tech.”

“[Lee’s] claims are, at This kind of point, being forced into arbitration,” Hoyer said. “This kind of was truly a bait-as well as-switch announcement by Google for my client as well as some other sex harassment victims.”

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