A Google shareholder is suing the internet giant’s founders and the board of directors for its parent company Alphabet over a $90 million severance payout made to an executive who was pushed out amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
The lawsuit alleges that co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, along with the rest of the board of directors, participated in a “multi-year scheme to cover up sexual harassment and discrimination at Alphabet,” Google’s parent company.
The New York Times first reported the 2014 payout to Andy Rubin, the father of the Android mobile operating system in October, after an investigation found allegations that he had coerced a Google employee into performing oral sex on him to be credible.
The report set off an internal firestorm that led to more than 20,000 Google employees staging a mass walkout at company offices around the world in a demonstration against the internet search giant’s handling of sexual misconduct.
Thursday’s lawsuit is the first shareholder lawsuit against the company over the Rubin debacle. It was filed by shareholder James Martin and alleges that the board failed in its duties by covering up the Rubin incident.
“Brin, Page, and the rest of Alphabet’s Board not only failed to disclose Rubin’s sexual harassment and the fact that the Company found the allegations of harassment to be credible, but gave Rubin a hero’s farewell party and paid him $90 million,” the lawsuit reads. “By such despicable conduct, Alphabet’s board breached its fiduciary duties of good faith and loyalty and violated the Company’s policies requiring them to act in an ‘effective and ethical manner.’”
The lawsuit also alleged that Brin, Page and Eric Schmidt — who has served as CEO of both Google and Alphabet and is a current board member — "set the tone" for a culture of misconduct by carrying on relationships and extramarital affairs with Google employees.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
— Updated 5:57 p.m.