According to a complaint filed in a lawsuit yesterday, Google paid $135 million in total as exit packages to top two senior execs, namely Andy Rubin (creator of Android) and Amit Singhal (former senior VP of Google search) after they were accused of sexual misconduct in the company. The lawsuit was filed by an Alphabet shareholder, James Martin, in the Santa Clara, California Court.
Google also confirmed paying the exit packages to senior execs to The Verge, yesterday. Speaking of the lawsuit, the complaint is against certain directors and officers of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, for their active and direct participation in “multi-year scheme” to hide sexual harassment and discrimination at Alphabet. It also states that the misconduct by these directors has caused severe financial and reputational damage to Alphabet.
The exit packages for Rubin and Singhal were approved by the Leadership Development and Compensation Committee (LLDC). The news of Google paying high exit packages to its top execs first came to light last October, after the New York Times released a report on Google, stating that the firm paid $90 million to Rubin and $15 million to Singhal. Rubin had previously also received an offer for a $150 million stock grant, which he then further use to negotiate the $90 million in severance pay, even though he should have been fired for cause without any pay, states the lawsuit.
To protest against the handling of sexual misconduct within Google, more than 20,000 Google employees along with vendors, and contractors, temps, organized Google “walkout for real change” and walked out of their offices in November 2018. Googlers also launched an industry-wide awareness campaign to fight against forced arbitration in January, where they shared information about arbitration on their Twitter and Instagram accounts throughout the day.
Last year in November, Google ended its forced arbitration ( a move that was soon followed by Facebook) for its employees (excluding temps, vendors, etc) and only in the case of sexual harassment. This led to contractors writing an open letter on Medium to Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google, in December, demanding him to address their demands of better conditions and equal benefits for contractors.
In response to the Google walkout and the growing public pressure, Google finally decided to end its forced arbitration policy for all employees (including contractors) and for all kinds of discrimination within Google, last month. The changes will go into effect for all the Google employees starting March 21st, 2019.
Yesterday, the Google walkout for real change group tweeted condemning the multi-million dollar payouts and has asked people to use the hashtag #Googlepayoutsforall to highlight other better ways that money could have been used.
— Google Walkout For Real Change (@GoogleWalkout) March 12, 2019
“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”, reads the lawsuit.
James Martin also filed a lawsuit against Alphabet’s board members, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt earlier this year in January for covering up the sexual harassment allegations against the former top execs at Google. Martin had sued Alphabet for breaching its fiduciary duty to shareholders, unjust enrichment, abuse of power, and corporate waste.
“The directors’ wrongful conduct allowed illegal conduct to proliferate and continue. As such, members of the Alphabet’s board were knowing direct enables of sexual harassment and discrimination”, reads the lawsuit. It also states that the board members not only violated the California and federal law but it also violated the ethical standards and guidelines set by Alphabet.
Public reaction to the news is largely negative with people condemning Google’s handling of sexual misconduct:
2 dudes were paid $135,000,000 to leave google after being accused of sexual harassment
that’s 13.5% of $1,000,000,000.
more than 1/10 of one BILLION dollars.
20 women earning $120,000/yr could work for their *entire adult lives* and not make even 1/10th of $1,000,000,000 https://t.co/XCtYKibHZZ
— stephanie vacher (@awesome) March 12, 2019
— Kelly Ellis (@justkelly_ok) March 12, 2019
Amit Singhal grabbed an employee's breast at an off-site. Google paid him $45M severance.
Andy Rubin coerced oral sex from an employee. Google paid him $90M severance.
I was harassed by my engineering director and my SVP. I had to quit with $0 severance.#GooglePayoutsForAll
— Kelly Ellis (@justkelly_ok) March 12, 2019
The victims should paid these many millions of dollars instead of the perpetrators of these criminal acts against other employees. Misconduct should not be rewarded and Google continues to set yet another very bad example here. #GooglePayoutsForAll
— Conrad Taylor (@conradwt) March 12, 2019
$135 million could fix Flint's water crisis and still have $80 million left #GooglePayoutsForAll
— Meredith Whittaker (@mer__edith) March 12, 2019
For more information, check out the official lawsuit here.