Newsletter

Alphabet executives sued over alleged covering up sexual harassment claims

Alyssa Clementi

GoogleplexA new lawsuit has been filed against board members of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, claiming leadership continuously covered up claims of sexual harassment by high-level executives. The allegations specifically cite the hushed resignation of Android creator Andy Rubin, who left the company after an internal investigation began, taking a four year, $90m severance with him.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California this past week by an Alphabet shareholder and first reported by Bloomberg, states that “the board of directors and top executives, including co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, failed in their responsibility to investors by letting the harassment carry on.” The suit also names venture capitalist John Doerr, investor Ram Shriram and Alphabet chief legal officer David Drummond.

"Alphabet's board knew about allegations of sexual harassment by numerous high-level executives at Google, which the company found to be 'credible' after performing internal investigations and review, and yet failed to disclose the finding that the allegations were credible, and instead allowed the high ?level executives to resign with lavish pay packages," the complaint says.

Rubin was dismissed from Alphabet in 2014, after employees came forward with claims of sexual misconduct and harassment, including pressuring a woman into performing sexual acts on him, and paying women for “ownership relationships”. After an internal investigation began and the accusations were found as credible, Rubin left the company with a multi-million exit package and a 'hero’s farewell'.

"Because of Rubin's importance to Google's financial results, he was treated differently than other employees by Google's board and senior management," the suit says. "He was given more deference and was lavished with compensation."

In November of last year, when Alphabet’s handling of the accusations against Rubin became public knowledge, thousands of employees staged a walkout in protest. The walkout did prompt management to change some workplace policy. A few years after the public protest, Google was again found in the midst of a 'quiet resignation' by executive Amit Singhal, after he was accused of sexual harassment. Singhal also received a multi-million-dollar payout and a job offer from Uber Technologies Inc., which he was later fired from.

“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 shareholder said in the complaint.

The shareholder is seeking compensatory and punitive damages of an undisclosed amount, along with alternative options to the dual class stock structure of Alphabet, which gives founders Page and Brin control of the company.