Alphabet board smacked with sueball for paying off Google execs accused of sexual harassment
Shareholders' suit alleges there was a 'pattern'
Another day, another anti-Google lawsuit – this time over claims Alphabet, adtech monolith Google's holding company, "failed to take meaningful steps to address a pervasive culture of harassment and discrimination".
The case, brought by the Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan and Teamsters Local 272 Labor Management Pension Fund, alleges that shareholders lost value because Google was paying off senior execs accused of sexual harassment.
Filed in a local court in California, the 62-page complaint (PDF) alleges that Alphabet breached its fiduciary duty to shareholders, wasted corporate assets, abused its corporate control of Google, and unjustly enriched people whom the suit-flingers claim should not have been – that is, people who quit when accused of sexual misconduct.
The suit repeats claims about Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin's alleged contribution "to the perception that they don't take women seriously at work", using this as an example of how Google's corporate culture is hostile to women. It also cites how former Android gros fromage Andy Rubin walked away in 2014 with a payoff worth $90m after allegedly "berating subordinates", "keeping sex bondage videos on his work computer" and coercing a female subordinate "into performing oral sex". Rubin is one example among many.
"Defendants' decision to waste millions of dollars of Company money in order to reward and protect powerful male executives credibly accused of sexual harassment epitomizes their failure to address the Company's wide-spread culture of sexual harassment and discrimination," the lawsuit continued.
As compensation for this breach, the claimants want the San Mateo County Court to rule "against all of the Defendants and in favor of the Company for the amount of all damages sustained by Alphabet as a result of Defendants' breaches of fiduciary duties, unjust enrichment, and corporate waste, including any and all damages compensable by statute and/or law, as well as disgorgement of all profits, benefits and other compensation that Defendants obtained". Naturally, they also seek their legal costs.
They also want Google to "take necessary actions to end the hostile work environment at the company as well as its pattern of non-compliance with data laws".
The named defendants are the entire board of Alphabet plus the company itself, Alphabet Inc. ®