Suit: Alphabet lost billions in sex harassment cover-ups
Google parent company Alphabet’s board of directors cost the firm billions of dollars by covering up sexual abuse by senior executives and paying them millions as they were quietly ousted, a new lawsuit by a shareholder claims.
Shareholder James Martin is suing the Alphabet board and senior executives, including two who allegedly received huge payouts as they were forced out of the company over claims of sexual misconduct.
A lawyer for Martin claimed Thursday that the board’s response to sexual harassment allegations cost the company a $90 million severance package to Android creator Andy Rubin, accused of coercing a female Google employee, plus millions more in severance for Search chief Amit Singhal, who was accused of drunkenly groping a female Googler at an off-site event.
A worldwide walkout in November by thousands of Google employees, in response to revelations in the New York Times about Rubin’s alleged golden parachute, cost Google hundreds of millions of dollars beyond the executives’ payouts, and fallout from the purported scandal led to billions of dollars in losses to Alphabet’s value in the stock market, lawyer Frank Bottini said at a press conference in San Francisco.
Internal probes found sexual misconduct claims against Rubin and Singhal credible, the lawsuit alleged.
“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 lawsuit claimed.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, filed Thursday morning in San Mateo County Superior Court. Rubin in an August tweet dismissed as a “smear campaign” the claim that he had coerced a woman into sex in a hotel room. Singhal could not be immediately reached for comment.
Google said late last year it had fired 48 people in the previous two years for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers or above, and none received severance packages.
Martin’s lawyers said the lawsuit was based on minutes from board meetings, which were obtained from Alphabet on the condition that the contents be kept confidential. Details of allegations are redacted from public court filings.
While senior male executives accused of sexual misconduct at Google received hefty golden parachutes, Alphabet employed a double standard for discipline, the lawsuit alleged.
“If you were a high-level male executive at Google responsible for generating millions of dollars in revenue, Google would let you engage in sexual harassment. And if you get caught, Google would keep it quiet, let you resign, and pay you millions of dollars in severance,” the suit claimed. “If you were a low-level employee at Google and were accused of sexual harassment or discrimination, you would be fired for cause with no severance benefits.”