Google sued by shareholder alleging sexual misconduct cover-up

The Google logo on a building

The suit, by shareholder James Martin, stems from revelations past year that the company awarded a $90 million (roughly Rs. 630 crores) exit package to executive Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android operating system, even as Rubin was being pushed out over sexual misconduct.

According to Mercury News, which cited a recent lawsuit from shareholder James Martin, "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".

Both lawsuits name the full board of Alphabet, which includes its co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, John Doerr, a venture capitalist, and Ram Shriram, one of its investors. "Instead, the company handed him a $90 million exit package, paid in installments of about $2 million a month for four years", the Times continued, adding that Rubin was just "one of three executives that Google protected over the past decade after they were accused of sexual misconduct".

Mr Rubin created Android, now the world's most popular operating system, and ran the powerful mobile division at Google for years before leaving the company in 2014.

Both Singhal and Rubin have denied the accusations.

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A similar lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan and Teamsters Local 272 Labor Management Pension Fund. Subsequently, the company agreed to cease forced arbitration for employees accused of sexual harassment, but did not give into other demands, including employee representation on the board.

It also seeks to have shareholders vote on proposals to end non-disclosure agreements and mandatory arbitrations that keep suspected misconduct from becoming public and to force directors to pay punitive and other damages to Alphabet. As Ellen Winick Stross, a member of Rubin's legal team told Reuters: "like much of the recent media coverage, mischaracterises Andy's departure from Google and sensationalises claims made about Andy by his ex-wife".

"There has been substantial evidence of sexual harassment at Google, and yet there hasn't been the appropriate follow-through", said Louis Renne. "Andy left Google voluntarily and, in the severance negotiations there was no mention of a harassment complaint".

Alphabet has not commented on the lawsuit.

The complaint is a derivative case filed on behalf of the company against its board of directors, which means any damages recovered by the plaintiff would go back to Google.

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