Google shareholders suing company over payments to former execs accused of sexual harassment

Google shareholders are suing the company board and senior management for covering up executives’ sexual harassment and rewarding them with large payouts for leaving quietly.

Two lawsuits, including one from shareholder James Martin and another from the Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan and Teamsters Local 272 Labor Management Pension Fund, were filed on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Both argue that the Silicon Valley giant’s leaders breached their duty to shareholders by covering up employee complaints.

Last year it emerged that Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android operating system had been given $90m to leave in 2014, despite Google concluding that sexual harassment allegations from another employee were credible.

The truth behind his departure was only made public thanks to a report in the New York Times. The story detailed how Google had covered up sexual harassment accusations against at least three other male executives, who were either allowed to continue their role or offered a similar severance package. The revelations spurred a mass “Walkout” from Google staff around the world.

As a result, Google said it would remove a forced arbitration from its employee contracts, which workers were initially forced to sign to waive their rights to a day in court over work-related complaints. Many are continuing to protest what they described as a sexist and toxic work culture among the ranks.

The organisers of the walkout said they were “grateful” for the lawsuits adding that “anyone who enables abuse, harassment and discrimination must be held accountable, and those with the most power have the most to account for”.

Both lawsuits are targeting leaders and executives at Google who were aware of Rubin’s misdemeanors and those who authorised his large payouts upon his resignation including former human resources director Laszlo Bock and top lawyer David Drummond, who was also accused of improper work relationships in the New York Times’ story.

Lawyers for Mr Martin said they had obtained minutes from internal meetings that proved that one of the executives had been given the money so he would not share any “dirt” on former colleagues.

The charges include  breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, abuse of power and corporate waste. Google has been contacted for comment.

Full Lawsuit

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