Tue, 14 Jul 2020

Alphabet faces lawsuit over sexual misconduct policy

By Sheetal Sukhija, Shanghai News.Net
13 Jan 2019, 08:51 GMT+10

CALIFORNIA, U.S. - Alphabet, which owns the world's biggest search engine site has landed itself in legal jeopardy over the handling of certain sexual misconduct claims. 

Lawsuits filed against the company are reportedly aiming to pressurize the U.S. tech giant into acting in a better way at uncovering and responding to misconduct claims. 

The legal action against Alphabet is related to its alleged handling of sexual misconduct claims against two senior managers. 

The company is facing another dire legal situation, as long-term shareholders have filed two lawsuits against the company, accusing Alphabet's board of being involved in attempts to cover up the claims.

According to reports, the lawsuits came as a reaction to Google's handling of misconduct claims made against former Android boss Andy Rubin and former search head Amit Singhal.

While Rubin and Singhal have denied the allegations, neither of them works with Google now.

Both the men are said to have faced an investigation after the claims were first made, at the end of which, they both received large pay-offs. 

Rubin was reportedly paid a $90 million exit package.

One of the lawsuit alleges that Google operated a two-tier policy when handling reports of harassment or discrimination.

The lawsuit claims, "Ordinary workers were typically fired and gained no benefits, but similar behaviour by high-level executives would be tolerated until managers were exposed, at which point they were paid off and allowed to resign."

As per the lawsuit, the double standard meant Alphabet's board had not done its job properly and its actions had cost the company millions.

The lawsuit filed in a California state court alleged this week, "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. 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."

In November 2018, after the pay-offs were made by Google, the company's handling of both the incidents sparked major demonstrations by staff.

Further, thousands of employees staged a walk out from their offices in co-ordinated protests against the company's policy of dealing with the cases.

At the time, Google CEO Sundar Pichai issued an apology over the way the company had acted in the past over allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

In a statement to staff, Pichai wrote, "Over the past two years, we have terminated 48 people, including 13 senior managers and above for sexual harassment. None of these people received an exit package. And to clarify: in that time, we have also not provided any exit packages to executives who departed voluntarily in the course of a sexual harassment investigation."

According to reports, the lawsuit names 12 present and former directors of Alphabet, including Google founders and the CEO.

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