Apparently Slack isn’t the bragging type.
The company behind the collaborative workspace tool favored by tech and media companies around the world quietly ended its policy of making employees to agree to forced arbitration in cases of harassment claims. And it did so late last year, to absolutely zero public fanfare.
So reports Yahoo! Finance, which notes that Slack announced the change internally in November, which is shortly after Google employees demanded a similar change at their company. Last November, Facebook also decided it would no longer force employees to take claims of sexual harassment and misconduct to a closed-door legal proceeding known as arbitration.
“We changed our policy in November 2018 to give employees the choice of whether to arbitrate or litigate harassment claims,” a Slack spokesperson told Yahoo! Finance. “We think allowing this choice is best for employees and for Slack as a whole. One size does not fit all.”
Slack confirmed the November policy change in an email to Mashable, but declined to comment on what — e.g. employee or public pressure — drove the change.
“There are some disputes where arbitration is a good venue, and some where litigation is a good venue,” Slack’s statement to Yahoo! Finance continued. “We want to make it clear to employees that they have a choice about claims of harassment.”
The fact that Slack carried out this policy change without an accompanying press release suggests that it didn’t feel the need to turn what is considered a pro-worker policy into a PR win. Google and Facebook, on the other hand, may have felt differently.
In February of 2019, Google took things a step further and announced that it would end mandatory arbitration for all types of employee disputes — not solely those involving claims of sexual misconduct.
“This victory never would have happened if workers hadn’t banded together, supported one another, and walked out,” tweeted a group of Google workers pressing for the policy change. “Collective action works.”
It’s unclear if Slack simply sought to avoid a public shellacking similar to the one received by Google, and thus preemptively made the change, or just truly thought ending forced arbitration for harassment claims was the right way to go. Either way, it’s a win for those who work at the company.