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Google sued for allegedly covering up sexual misconduct allegations

A shareholder said Alphabet's board of directions were directly involved.
Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
January 10, 2019
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A shareholder for Google's parent company Alphabet has sued the tech giant, accusing it of covering up sexual harassment claims against some of its top executives. The lawsuit filed by shareholder James Martin said Alphabet's board of directors, including Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, were directly involved in the coverup. Martin supported his lawsuit with minutes from Alphabet board meetings in 2014 and 2016 concerning Andy Rubin and Amit Singhal, respectively. Both former Google executives left the company after sexual harassment complaints -- Rubin, in particular, received a $90 million exit package even though an internal investigation found the claims against him credible.

According to Reuters, Martin's lawyers plan to put a focus on how the board's coverup cost the company hundreds of millions in damages. In addition to the massive exit packages the two former executives received, thousands of employees worldwide walked out in November as a protest after the payouts were revealed.

The lawsuit is asking Rubin and other high-ranking execs to return their exit packages. It's also asking Alphabet to allow non-management shareholders to nominate at least three board members and to change its stock structure, which currently gives Page and Brin a supermajority voting share. In addition, it wants to end non-disclosure agreements and mandatory arbitrations that prevent sexual harassment claims from going public.

The last part may not be necessary, since Google chief Sundar Pichai announced the end of forced arbitrations after the November walkout. Pichai also promised to publish a publicly-disclosed sexual harassment transparency report and to provide a safe process for reporting sexual misconduct anonymously going forward.

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