#MeToo Prompts Tech Companies to Change Employment Arbitration Practices

Fenwick litigation and employment practices partner Sheeva Ghassemi-Vanni talked to Law360 about recent employment arbitration trends in reaction to the #MeToo movement and how they’re affecting startups and tech companies.

A number of large, public tech companies recently announced they will not require employees to arbitrate workplace sexual harassment complaints and will instead allow workers to choose between arbitrating or going to court.

Ghassemi-Vanni discussed how these changes are being prompted by the #MeToo movement and its goal of rooting out the serial harassers that some say arbitration shields from public scorn, an issue that may lead to more businesses re-evaluating their policies.

She noted that many startups and tech companies have expressed interest in discussing whether they should follow the lead of several large, public tech companies and adopt a carveout to their arbitration provisions for sexual harassment claims. She also mentioned that those on the defense bar are wondering how far this trend might reach.

“If sexual harassment claims are carved out, why not harassment on any basis? Age, race, disability? And why not discrimination on any basis?” Ghassemi-Vanni told Law360.

Despite these questions, Ghassemi-Vanni does not expect businesses to widely adopt sexual harassment arbitration carveouts any time soon absent legislation. However, businesses may ultimately feel pressure to do so, Ghassemi-Vanni noted.

The full article is available on Law360 (subscription required).​​​