Google shareholder alleges company tried to cover up sexual misconduct

Marco Green
January 11, 2019

Separately two lawsuits have been filed by long-term shareholders which accuse Alphabet's board of being involved in attempts to cover up the claims.

The lawsuit alleges that the board minutes show that the payout was approved by board members "since they apparently feared that if they fired Rubin for cause, he would sue Google for wrongful termination and all the tawdry details of sexual harassment by senior executives at Google would become public".

The filing comes following allegations made against former Android bigwig Andy Rubin last October.

The lawsuit was filed in California's Superior Court, and said minutes from the board meeting demonstrate how the directors agreed to accept Rubin's resignation in exchange for a sizeable severance in order to "keep the matter quiet".

The allegations stem primarily from large severance payments to Andy Rubin, who led Google's Android mobile operating division until 2014, and Amit Singhal, head of Google's search unit until 2016. "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".

The suit also asks Alphabet to alter its shareholder voting structure, which now provides the co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, majority voting rights even though they no longer own the majority of shares.

Shortly after the allegations surfaced, 20,000 Google employees across the world staged a walkout as a mark of protest against the company's toxic work culture and its inaction against claims of harassment and abuse.

Despite being credibly accused of sexual misconduct against a co-worker, Rubin was still given a $150 million stock grant, to be paid out over several years, along with a $90 million exit package, according to a New York Times report from last year.

Singhal was sacked from Uber Technologies 2017 for failing to disclose the allegations he faced at the Mountain View, California-based company, where he was the longtime head of the powerful search division.

"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", the complaint added.

Singhal didn't respond to a request for comment.

"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", Ellen Winick Stross, a lawyer for Rubin, said in a statement sent late on Thursday. "Andy denies any misconduct, and we will vigorously defend him against these baseless claims".

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

The company declined to comment.

Louise Renne, one of the lawyers who filed the suit, offered the following during a press conference. "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".

Google is yet to respond to the complaint.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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