Google Sued Over Payouts to Ex-Execs Accused of Sexual Harassment

Daniel Fowler
January 13, 2019

Google's board of directors and executive leadership have been accused of covering up allegations of sexual harassment against former executives.

The allegations in the suit chiefly concern the board's handling of Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android software platform who left Google in 2014.

The lawsuit names 12 present and former directors of Alphabet, including Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and CEO Sundar Pichai among others, for giving Rubin a "hero's farewell". This means that by giving these payouts to those executives whose sexual harassment allegations were considered credible (instead of disciplining them appropriately), Google showed it was more interested in protecting its public image than it was securing its investors' rights and managing the company and its assets appropriately.

The suit comes after Google reportedly gave generous exit packages to executives accused of sexual misconduct. Accusations against both men were deemed to be credible, the lawsuit contends, although both deny the allegations.

As a result, Google said that it would remove the policy of the company of forced arbitration, which prohibits employees from suing in harassment cases.

Two lawsuits, including one from shareholder James Martin and another from the Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan and Teamsters Local 272 Labor Management Pension Fund, were filed on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. The Times also reported another senior executive received a severance package in the millions after being accused of sexual misconduct, while another kept his highly-paid job.

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Google even went on to invest in Rubin's new Essential Phone company.

"This lawsuit, like much of the recent media coverage, mischaracterizes Andy's departure from Google and sensationalizes claims made about Andy by his ex-wife", Stross wrote.

Google is yet to respond to the complaint.

Google workers around the world walked out November 1 to protest how the company has handled sexual harassment claims - a day after Alphabet executive Rich DeVaul resigned amid similar accusations.

Google told staff in October that it dismissed 48 people for sexual harassment in the past two years without exit packages. "What we have asked for are a lot of changes in corporate governance at Google, and that is really the ultimate goal of this litigation".

Employee organizers said they welcomed the lawsuits as they continue to push for further changes, including an employee representative on Alphabet's board.

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