$ 45 million exit package approved by Google for executives accused of misconduct

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SAN FRANCISCO – Alphabet's board of directors agreed to pay $ 45 million to a former Google executive when he resigned from the company in 2016 after being accused of fumbling with a subordinate.

The previously undisclosed amount was part of the separation agreement with Amit Singhal, senior vice president who ran Google's search operations until February 2016. The amount was revealed on Monday in a lawsuit of shareholders accusing the board of directors of Alphabet, Google's parent company, from shirking their responsibilities by agreeing to pay executives accused of misconduct instead of dismissing them for cause valid.

The lawsuit was part of the consequences of how Google handled cases of sexual harassment. In October, the Grouvy Today reported that Google generously paid several senior executives for separation agreements after being criminally accused of sexual harassment, even though they could have been fired for just cause. In one case, Google gave a $ 90 million release package to Andy Rubin, who previously ran the Android division, after being accused of sexual misconduct.

The shareholders' complaint was filed in January in the California Superior Court with deletions in the passages referring to the discussions of the board of directors. A modified version was deposited Monday without the redactions.

Frank Bottini, Shareholder Advocate, stated that the payments approved by the Board of Directors constituted an "abdication of liability".

A spokeswoman for Google said Monday that the company "has made many changes to our workplace and has adopted an increasingly harsh line of conduct regarding the inappropriate conduct of people in positions of power. authority, "she added.

According to the amended lawsuit, Google would have agreed to pay Mr. Singhal $ 15 million a year for two years and between $ 5 and $ 15 million the third year, provided that he was not employed by a competitor. He agreed to work at Uber about a year after he left, then resigned from the company a few weeks later, when the sexual harassment complaint at Google went public.

Mr. Singhal left Google after an employee told him that he had groped him at an event on the outside. Google investigated the allegation and found that Mr. Singhal was intoxicated. The company also concluded that the employee's account was credible. Mr. Singhal then stated that he wanted to spend more time with his family and focus on his philanthropy.

Mr. Singhal did not respond to a request for comment.

The suit also quotes the minutes of the board meetings confirming the Times report on Mr. Rubin's $ 90 million exit plan. A Google employee with whom he had an extramarital relationship accused him of forcing her to have oral sex. She filed a complaint and the company's investigation concluded that her account was credible. Mr. Rubin's separation agreement was also conditional on his agreeing not to work with rivals.

"This lawsuit only repeats much of the recent media coverage, gives a misconception of Google 's departure from Google, and sensationalizes his ex – wife' s allegations about Andy," said the reporter. Mr. Rubin's lawyer, Ellen Stross, on Monday. "Andy acknowledges having a consensual relationship with a Google employee. However, Andy strongly denies misconduct and we look forward to telling his story in court. "

Mr. Rubin's payout sparked a public outcry from Google and, last fall, caused the departure of 20,000 employees who asked the company to improve its handling of harassment complaints. After the walkout, Google terminated its forced arbitration practice for its complaints of sexual harassment or sexual assault.

The walkout organization, Google Walkout for Real Change, said on Monday: "The details of these outrageous exit packages, endorsed personally by Google executives, are a symptom of a culture that protects and rewards all stalkers. Google badly needs responsible leadership and real systemic change. "

The lawsuit also shed light on how the Alphabet Board works and the power of Larry Page, Google co-founder and CEO of Alphabet.

According to the suit, the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors proposed to pay Mr. Rubin a salary of $ 650,000 in April 2014, giving him the opportunity to earn a bonus greater than double his salary. At the time, Mr. Rubin was a Google advisor and no longer ran the Android market.

The lawsuit indicated that Mr. Rubin refused to accept this pay package until he spoke to Mr. Page. In August 2014, Mr. Page awarded a $ 150 million equity grant to Mr. Rubin.

Eight days after the $ 150 million grant, a Google manager sent an email to the board committee asking him to approve Mr. Rubin's compensation. Without any additional documents, the committee members – Paul S. Otellini, former CEO of Intel, died in 2017; John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Venture Capital; and Ram Shriram of venture capital firm Sherpalo Ventures – have said he has approved, according to the lawsuit.

Doerr and Shriram did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Google granted the grant to Mr. Rubin, even though there was an active investigation into his misconduct. When Mr. Page finally decided to separate from Mr. Rubin, the allocation of $ 150 million shares was a considerable asset to negotiate his departure, since the compensation in shares of an officer is often taken into account when negotiations for a settlement.

Through an spokesman for the Alphabet, Mr. Page declined to comment.