The 2012 case of Ellen Pao versus Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers was a turning point in the tech industry. It opened the floodgates for more recent revelations about sexism, harassment, and assault in tech, such as those from Susan Fowler Rigetti.\nThe technicality that brought Pao\u2019s case to mainstream attention revolved around private companies\u2019 use of forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts. A judge ruled that the venture capital firm couldn\u2019t force Pao into binding arbitration, which paved the way for the case to go to court. Without that ruling, it\u2019s likely that Kleiner Perkins would have kept the case out of the headlines and the public might not have known how pervasive these issues are in the tech industry. That\u2019s exactly why these clauses exist \u2014 and exactly why they shouldn\u2019t.\nForced arbitration clauses are common in private companies; employment attorneys quote statistics saying 80 percent of private companies make employees sign them. Basically, signing a forced arbitration clause means that in the case of grievances, complaints and\/or labor violations, an employee must use a private, confidential, third-party arbitrator instead of taking cases to a public court for resolution. The arbitrator\u2019s verdict is final \u2014 and confidential.\n[ Read also: How #MeToo and #TimesUp impact IT hiring and 10 ways you\u2019re getting workplace diversity wrong (and how to get it right). | Get the latest CIO insights direct, with our CIO Daily newsletter. ]\nAs Connie Loizos wrote in TechCrunch last year, arbitration is \u201c\u2026 a maneuver designed to move a lawsuit\u00a0off its path toward a courtroom and onto the desk of an adjudicator, whose verdict is\u00a0legally binding and completely confidential. No one ever hears about employees\u2019 grievances.\n\u201cUber is far from alone in employing the tactic. Employment attorneys say that something like 80 percent of tech companies compel their employees into arbitration, including because it prevents employees\u00a0from joining together to fight a company,\u201d Loizos wrote.\nAnd if tech is to truly address the sexism and harassment issues it\u2019s still struggling with, it needs to do away with these clauses in employment contracts altogether. Susan Fowler Rigetti herself, in fact, is pushing for this. Last summer, her legal time filed amicus briefs on three cases pending with the Supreme Court, asking them to consider that these clauses violate federal labor laws.\nSupreme Court ruling could affect sexual harassment cases\nUnfortunately, this week, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on these cases \u2014 \u00a0and it\u2019s not good. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that workers may not band together to challenge violations of federal labor laws and must abide by individual arbitration clauses.\nThis ruling could have a chilling effect on any future sexual harassment and discrimination cases. As NPR reports:\n\u201cLabor law experts said Monday's decision very likely will present increasing problems for the #MeToo movement, and for other civil rights class actions claiming discrimination based on race, gender and religion. There is no transparency in most binding arbitration agreements, and they often include nondisclosure provisions. What's more, class actions deal with the expense and fear of retaliation problems of solo claims. As [Associate Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg put it, \u2018There's safety in numbers.\u2019\u201d\nSome private companies are publicly dumping these clauses. Microsoft \u2014 I know, I was surprised, too \u2014 announced last December that they\u2019re getting rid of forced arbitration clauses and also are supporting legislation that would void any such clauses in the cases of sexual harassment and discrimination claims. Of course, as this Gizmodo article points out, the move on Microsoft\u2019s part is \u201clargely symbolic,\u201d as only a few hundred higher-level employees were covered by arbitration clauses to begin with \u2014 and those would still be binding outside of gender or racial discrimination cases.\nWhen asked by Gizmodo about forced arbitration clauses, responses varied. Amazon says they never have used such clauses in employee contracts. Facebook says all employees are bound by arbitration clauses to settle all disputes. A few other companies didn\u2019t respond.\nIt remains to be seen if more tech companies will follow Microsoft\u2019s and Amazon\u2019s example or if they\u2019ll continue to hide behind arbitration and the cover provided by the Supreme Court\u2019s decision.