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Google shareholders file lawsuit over sexual misconduct payouts (Update: Response)

The lawsuit calls for new board members and for former executives accused of sexual misconduct to return their exit packages.

Published onJanuary 11, 2019

The Google logo on a building.

Update, January 11, 2019 (3:42PM EST): In a statement sent to Android Central, Andy Rubin’s lawyer said the lawsuit “mischaracterizes” Rubin’s departure from Google.

Here’s the statement from Rubin’s lawyer, Ellen Winick Stross, in full:

“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. Andy left Google voluntarily. Andy denies any misconduct, and we look forward to telling his story in court.”

Original article, January 11, 2019 (2:46AM EST): Shareholders have filed a lawsuit against Google’s parent company Alphabet after Google allegedly green-lit generous exit packages to executives accused of sexual misconduct.

According to The Verge, citing legal filings, the suit is calling for three new, independent directors to join the parent company’s board. It’s also urging an end to so-called “dual class voting structure,” which would reduce the power of Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Additionally, the filing is calling for the accused executives to return their exit packages.

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The suit also proposes several actions to better tackle sexual harassment and discrimination cases. These proposed actions include tighter internal controls against harassment, the elimination of non-disclosure agreements in these cases, and an end to forced arbitration.

The filing comes following allegations made against former Android bigwig Andy Rubin last October. Google reportedly allowed Rubin to resign with a $90 million exit package, despite that he’d been accused of sexual misconduct.

The New York Times reported that Rubin was one of two male executives who received generous exit packages despite having “credible” claims of sexual misconduct against them. A third male executive credibly accused of sexual misconduct was purportedly allowed to stay at the company.

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“The rational and reasonable inference from these facts is that Larry Page and Google’s directors wanted to make sure Rubin was paid handsomely to ensure his silence, 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,” reads an excerpt of the filing.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai issued a letter to staff at the time Rubin’s payout was made public, claiming the company fired 48 employees in the past two years for sexual misconduct. He added that none of the 48 employees had received an exit package. But of course, this still doesn’t explain Rubin and the other two executives.

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