Shareholders Sue Alphabet Board Over Allegations That It Covered Sexual Misconduct Claims


Shareholders have filed lawsuits against Alphabet, the parent company of Google, over allegations that the firm covered up claims of sexual misconduct against some of its top executives.

Reuters reported that in two lawsuits that were filed by investors this week, they claimed that the board of Alphabet failed in its duties by not tackling sexual harassment within the firm, approving massive payouts and acting to cover up the allegations.

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.

Last year, it was reported by the New York Times that Andy Rubin, the Android creator, received an exit package amounting to $90 million in 2014, while the allegations of sexual misconduct against him were covered up by the company.

The report also said that Google allowed Amit Singhal, a former vice president, to step down from his position, after claims of harassment were filed against him, paying him millions of dollars upon his resignation.

The lawsuits claim that board minutes reveal that the payouts were approved by the members of the board. Reuters reported that the filings also claim that the internal investigations found that the sexual allegations are credible.

Both Singhal and Rubin have denied the accusations.

A suit that was filed by James Martin, a shareholder, claimed: “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.”

Teamsters Local 272 Labor Management Pension Fund and Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan filed another suit that accused the company’s board of operating a “pattern of concealment”, that allowed “a pervasive culture of harassment and discrimination.”.

The plaintiffs are seeking some damages, including the return of over $90 million that was paid to the departing former executives, as well as some reforms to the corporate governance and share structure of the company.

Last year, the claims prompted a series of mass walkouts by the employees of Google worldwide. The employees called for an improved work culture and a better process for the reporting sexual harassment incidents.

As a result, Google said that it would remove the policy of the company of forced arbitration, which prohibits employees from suing in harassment cases.

After the walkouts, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, also claimed that Google had dismissed 48 employees for sexual misconduct over the last two years.