What you need to know
- Back in late 2018, Google came under fire for its mishandling of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment from top executives within the company.
- A shareholder lawsuit created in 2019 has now been settled by parent company Alphabet.
- Google's released a summary of key changes it's making to better support employees going forward.
Back in late 2018, Google came under fire for claims that top executives within the company were reported for sexual harassment and sexual misconduct — the most notable of this was Andy Rubin, who's better known as one of the co-founders of Android. Google let him go with a $90 million severance package, walk away scott-free, and people were rightfully upset.
A shareholder lawsuit was quickly brought against Google and its parent company Alphabet in January 2019 in response to these claims, and well over a year later, Alphabet has finally settled.
CNBC first reported the news on September 25, 2020, with the shareholders' attorney saying, "This settlement is likely to have lasting, long-term success in bringing about major, transformative changes at Alphabet.
As part of this settlement, Google is enacting a few notable changes within the company that it hopes will ensure a situation like this doesn't happen again. These include:
- A DEI Advisory Council is being created to monitor these efforts, which will report on a quarterly basis to the Leadership Development and Compensation Committee of the Board.
- Any employees terminated or under investigation for sexual misconduct claims will not be eligible for severance. Furthermore, managers will receive "guidance instructing them on how misconduct should impact an employee's performance evaluation, compensation decisions, and promotion outcomes."
- If allegations are made against an executive, a specialist team will be assigned to oversee it. The results of that team will then be reported to the Board's Audit Committee.
- Google is investing $310 million towards "diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and programs focused on increasing access to computer science education and careers; continuing to build a more representative workforce; fostering a respectful, equitable and inclusive workplace culture; and helping businesses from underrepresented groups to succeed in the digital economy and tech industry."
In addition to all of this, Google is also making arbitration optional for all of its employees, temporary staff, vendors, and contractors for issues regarding harassment or discrimination of any kind.
Per Google's Vice President of People Operations, Eileen Naughton:
I never understood why if you are investigated or fired for sexual misconduct you get a HUGE severance package while the person who brought the claims up get usually nothing and blackballed from their industry.
One generally has nothing to do with the other. I was listening to a lawyer take about it and basically, if it is not written into the contract that the offending employee will lose their severance pay if they are fired for that specific reason, they are entitled to the severance pay. I do feel the offended employee should be compensated, greatly, but how I, or we, feel, that is not how the law works
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