Google tried to cover up sexual misconduct, alleges shareholder

Google parent Alphabet's board sued on allegations of sexual misconduct cover-up

A Google shareholder sued the board of directors and senior management of its parent company Alphabet Inc on Thursday, alleging that they approved huge severance packages to cover up an environment of sexual misconduct, The New York Times reported.

Shareholders have filed lawsuits against Alphabet, the parent company of Google, over allegations that the firm covered up claims of sexual misconduct against some of its top executives.

The New York Times in November 2018 reported that Rubin received $90 million in severance when Google fired him in 2014 over accusations of sexual misconduct that the company deemed credible.

Both Mr Rubin and Mr Singhal have denied the allegations. The suit named 12 current and former directors of Alphabet, including co-founder Larry Page and Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai.

Some of the Google employees involved in the walkout released a statement Thursday in support of the lawsuits. He also revealed (in the lawsuit) that Google provided them on the condition that they will not be published anywhere. All nine directors were informed that "the allegations were credible", according to the complaint.

A suit that was filed by James Martin, a shareholder, claimed: "The conduct of Rubin and other executives was disgusting, illegal, immoral, degrading to women, and contrary to every principle that Google claims it abides by". As Ellen Winick Stross, a member of Rubin's legal team told Reuters: "like much of the recent media coverage, mischaracterises Andy's departure from Google and sensationalises claims made about Andy by his ex-wife". "Andy left Google voluntarily and, in the severance negotiations there was no mention of a harassment complaint". "Over the past two years, we have terminated 48 people, including 13 senior managers and above for sexual harassment", Pichai said.

Frank Bottini, an attorney representing one shareholder, said the lawsuit wanted to prompt action at the highest level in Alphabet. John Hennessy, the board chairman, and board members Ann Mather, Roger Ferguson and Diane Greene didn't respond to requests for comment.

To make things a little more interesting, Martin's lawsuit cites minutes taken from Alphabet board committee meetings, where the alleged behaviour of its executives was discussed. It seeks damages as well as improvements in Google's corporate governance policies.

The case is Martin v. Page, 19-cv-00164, California Superior Court, San Mateo County (Redwood City).

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