Published: Sun, January 13, 2019
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Shareholders sue Google for hushing up alleged misconduct

Shareholders sue Google for hushing up alleged misconduct

Shareholders in Alphabet, the parent company of Google, have filed a lawsuit against the company over payouts made to former executives accused of sexual harassment.

The board members named in the lawsuit include Pichai, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Alphabet's former executive board chairman Eric Schmidt.

News of these payouts first surfaced in late October past year, with the two former executives including Android's creator Andy Rubin and former head of Google Search Amit Singhal. "What we have asked for are a lot of changes in corporate governance at Google, and that is really the ultimate objective of this litigation".

The New York Times reported that Rubin was one of two male executives who received generous exit packages despite having "credible" claims of sexual misconduct against them. It wants Alphabet to let non-management shareholders nominate at least three board members, and to change voting rights to "one share, one vote" - a marked departure from the ten votes each executive enjoys per share.

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Rubin was also "alleged to have engaged in human sex trafficking": in an October 2018 lawsuit brought by his ex-wife, Rie Rubin, she claimed that Andy Rubin had multiple "ownership relationships" with several highly paid women. Singhal also resigned from the position of Uber's Senior Vice President of Engineering in 2017 after the sexual harassment allegations against him were discovered from his time at Google.The aftermath of these incidents becoming public was a massive world protest staged by its employees aginst the way the sexual misconduct cases were handled.

Both Singhal and Rubin have denied the accusations.

"There has been substantial evidence of sexual harassment at Google, and yet there hasn't been the appropriate follow-through", said Louis Renne.

According to the New York Times, Alphabet's board is also the target of another lawsuit in San Mateo, California, where the Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan and pension fund for local Teamsters group allege a "breach of fiduciary duties, unjust enrichment and corporate waste".

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Representatives of Google and John Doerr declined to comment.

The complaint is a derivative case filed on behalf of the company against its board of directors, which means any damages recovered by the plaintiff would go back to Google.

"We'd like to see. meaningful change in the tone at the company, the policies, the treatment of women, the reporting of sexual harassment and other issues", he told Reuters.

A lawsuit has been filed by a shareholder of Alphabet Inc.

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