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Google shareholder sues the company alleging sexual misconduct cover-up

January 11, 2019:

On Friday, a Google shareholder has filed a lawsuit against the company’s executive officers and board of directors, alleging the company concealed sexual misconduct allegations against former executives.

Google sued by shareholder
Google sued by shareholder

The lawsuit, filed by shareholder James Martin, stems from hefty severance packages Google reportedly gave executive Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile operating system, and Amit Singhal, head of Google’s search unit until 2016.

Allegations of sexual harassment against the two men were found to be credible by company investigations, according to the lawsuit.

“Rubin was allowed to quietly resign by defendants Larry Page and Sergey Brin after an internal investigation found the allegations of sexual harassment by Rubin to be credible,” according to the complaint, filed Thursday in California state court.

“While at Google, Rubin is also alleged to have engaged in human sex trafficking – paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to women to be, in Rubin’s own words, ‘owned’ by him.”

The lawsuit comes during a period of prominent figures in industries ranging from politics to entertainment being toppled by revelations of sexual harassment or sexual assault.

In the tech industry, companies like Uber have wrestled with accounts of work environments fraught with varying degrees of sexual harassment.

High-profile venture capitalists like Chris Sacca and Dave McClure have been unseated, as well, over sexual harassment allegations.

Google paid Rubin $90 million after Page asked for his resignation following an allegation Rubin coerced a female employee into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013, according to a New York Times report in Oct.

Singhal stepped down as Uber’s senior vice president of engineering in 2017 after the ride-hailing company discovered he’d allegedly been accused of sexual harassment while he was employed at Google. He resigned from Google in 2016 after reportedly being accused of sexually harassing a female employee in a different department at Google.

Rubin and Singhal have denied the allegations.

The lawsuit accuses the board and executives of breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, abuse of power and corporate waste. Defendants include Page and Brin, former Chairman Eric Schmidt, CEO Sundar Pichai, former human resources director Laszlo Bock, chief legal officer David Drummond, Rubin and Singhal, among others.

A similar lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan and Teamsters Local 272 Labor Management Pension Fund.

In Nov, Google employees around the world staged a coordinated walkout to protest the company’s handling of the sexual harassment allegations. The walkout’s organizers said more than 20,000 full-time workers and contractors participated in the Nov. 1 protest.

Some of the Google employees involved in the walkout released a statement Thursday in support of the lawsuits.

They said, “We have all the evidence we need that Google’s leadership does not have our best interests at heart.”

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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