- Microsoft will eliminate its requirement that employees arbitrate sexual harassment claims, The New York Times reports. The tech giant also announced its support for a federal bill that would ban these agreements.
- Arbitration agreements have been criticized for hampering employees' right to sue alleged harassers in court, while protecting the identities of the accused and allowing serial harassers to continue the misconduct, says the Times.
- Claims unrelated to sex discrimination will still fall under the company's arbitration agreements.
Microsoft's move comes in the wake of a stream of harassment allegations that have taken down powerful individuals in the news and entertainment industries.
Although Microsoft has had its own internal struggles with sex discrimination claims, the announcement could signify a culture shift that better allows accusers to come forward with claims.
Some employers, however, aren't completely on board with the federal and state proposals that aim to address this problem. Arbitration has long been an important tool for businesses to avoid litigation, and courts have generally looked favorably on such agreements.
It remains to be seen whether the proposals will have any success in the legislatures but, in the meantime, employers can always brush up on best practices for preventing harassment in the first place.