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Google employees support the proposed US legislation to curb mandatory arbitration

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Six employees of Google on Thursday joined the US legislators in support of bills that would prohibit mandatory arbitration in employment and consumer contracts, such as the workers build on the recent success in getting the Alphabet Inc company drop some arbitration provisions.

FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance of the Google offices in London, Britain, 18 January 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Mandatory arbitration, which prevents people from taking disputes to the court, has become a great target for the workers ‘ rights activists in recent years. They are concerned that private arbitration helps companies faced with harassment and discrimination allegations to prevent the public opinion.

“We can’t have an honest conversation about labor law, or the repair of consumers until we draw the curtain of mandatory arbitration, which denies workers and consumers of their ability to fully and publicly defend their rights,” Tanuja Gupta, a New York-based Google employee said during a press conference in Washington Thursday.

The Forced Arbitration of Injustice in the Withdrawal of the (FAIR) Act and various pieces of related legislation that would ensure an individual and class-action lawsuits are an option in a variety of disputes, members of Congress said at the press conference.

Business groups have said that arbitration provides timely resolutions and lawsuits benefit lawyers more than plaintiffs.

Democratic lawmakers have tried to limit mandatory arbitration, but have struggled to gain support from the Republican colleagues.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said that he expects the REAL Action to at least pass the Democrat-controlled House this year.

“This bill is about ensuring every individual their day in court,” Blumenthal said.

Andy Phelan, a spokesman for Representative Hank Johnson, who has long supported arbitration changes, said tech workers harmed by such provisions have never previously appeared on a bill introduction.

Last week, Google was the last of a handful of high-tech companies to announce it would no longer require its employees to arbitrate employment disputes.

Thousands of Google employees recently walked off the job in November as part of a demonstration organised by Gupta and a few others to advocate for workplace changes in the policy, including arbitration.

Google declined to comment on the workers to support changes in the legislation.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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