A shareholder complaint has been recently filed to the court claiming that Google made payouts to two former executives who had been accused of sexual harassment.
The issue of sexual harassment at work has become one of the most widely discussed one over the past few years. For employers, such accusation of their workers can become a weighty reason to fire them in order to protect the reputation of their company.
This practice of firing those whose behavior is considered inappropriate and can be classified as sexual harassment is quite common today. But approaches to those who have violated the norms of behavior differ.
Harassment at Google
Last year, Google stated that they had fired 48 employees accused of sexual harassment, 13 of them occupied the executive positions. Nevertheless, it was disclosed that two former executives received impressive amounts of money after having been fired.
These payouts became one of the reasons why more than 1000 Google employees in Asia, Europe and the United States took part in protests claiming for fair approaches to everyone and the equity of rights. The information about significant payouts to former Android head Andy Rubin and former senior search vice president Amit Singhal was included in a shareholder lawsuit against the company filed in Santa Clara, Californian court.
The lawsuit targets the board of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The main idea that is stated in the paper is the fact that one of the main duties of the members of the board is to protect the company and its shareholders from risk and reputation damage. But their decision to pay male executives accused of sexual misconduct looks like they support such behavior and do not care about reputational and financial damage that such a situation has caused.
Shareholders ask for a trial and call for the company to handle potential future sexual harassment accusations in a more appropriate way. The lawsuit contains 202 pages and has 119 pages of media reports from outlets.
The document also quotes one Google employee who preferred to remain unnamed which is quite explainable in such a situation: “When Google covers up harassment and passes the trash, it contributes to an environment where people don’t feel safe reporting misconduct. They suspect that nothing will happen, or, worse, that the men will be paid and the women will be pushed aside,” reads the suit.
Payouts to Former Executives
According to the documents filed to the court, Google’s Leadership Development and Compensation Committee approved the payouts. Nevertheless, there has appeared some confusion as to the exact amounts that were paid.
Though initially, Google had approved the payouts of $135 million, in total it paid $105 million. At first, Amit Singhal was offered $45 million but then he received only $15 million as after having been fired he joined Google’s rival – Uber. By way, later he was fired from Uber as well. The reason was that he hadn’t disclosed the previous allegations to his new employer.
As for Rubin, he received $90 million, though he was offered a $150 million stock grant. Nevertheless, he left before the shares vested and could get only a $90 million severance package (if the word “only” is appropriate in such a case).
The suit claims that with a view to cover up sexual misconduct of the former executives, Alphabet CEO Larry Page awarded the grants, and only after that received approval from the board.