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Google tried to cover up sexual misconduct, alleges shareholder

Agency | January 11, 2019 11:28 AM

SAN FRANCISCO: In a bid to hide sexual harassment allegations against former Google executives, Alphabet's board of directors has approved hefty severance packages for the accused, according a lawsuit filed by a shareholder of the company.

Alphabet Inc is Google's parent company.

The lawsuit filed on Thursday in California state court accuses the board and executives of breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, abuse of power and corporate waste, CNET reported.

The lawsuit makes reference to oversize severance packages that Google reportedly paid to Android creator Andy Rubin, and Amit Singhal, head of Google's search unit until 2016.

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.

Allegations of sexual harassment against the two men were found to be credible by company investigations, according to the lawsuit filed by shareholder James Martin.

"Rubin was allowed to quietly resign by defendants Larry Page and Sergey Brin after an internal investigation found the allegations of sexual harassment by Rubin to be credible," according to the complaint.

"While at Google, Rubin is also alleged to have engaged in human sex trafficking -- paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to women to be, in Rubin's own words, 'owned' by him."

Singhal stepped down as ride-hailing giant Uber's Senior Vice President of Engineering in 2017 after it discovered he had allegedly been accused of sexual harassment while he was employed at Google, said the CNET report, adding that both Rubin and Singhal have denied the allegations.

Following the New York Times report in November, Google employees around the world staged a protest against the tech giant's handling of sexual harassment cases.

After the reaction to the story in The Times, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sought to reassure employees about the company's stand against sexual harassment.

"Over the past two years, we have terminated 48 people, including 13 senior managers and above for sexual harassment," Pichai said.

"None of these people received an exit package. And to clarify: in that time, we have also not provided any exit packages to executives who departed voluntarily in the course of a sexual harassment investigation," he added.

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