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Shareholders sue Google execs over handling of Andy Rubin sexual harassment claims

Published Jan 11th, 2019 8:08PM EST
Google Lawsuit
Image: Valeriya Zankovych

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When Android founder Andy Rubin left Google in 2014, the departure was unexpected, if not shrouded in mystery. A few years later, a New York Times expose revealed that Rubin was essentially forced out of the search giant due to a handful of sexual misconduct claims from other Google employees. In ousting Rubin, Google paid the famed engineer a whopping $90 million when it could have simply fired him outright. Naturally, when the story surfaced, Google received an avalanche of criticism for not only keeping quiet about the allegations, but for paying Rubin such a generous sum of money.

The Times story first surfaced this past October and now, just a few months later, a pair of shareholder suits on the matter has emerged. Originally brought to light by the San Francisco Chronicle, both lawsuits effectively accuse the company’s board of allowing the harassment to continue while also chastising board members for approving Rubin’s exit payout.

A complaint from one of the lawsuits reads in part:

The individual defendants knew about sexual harassment by numerous senior Google executives, including defendant Andy Rubin (the creator of Android mobile software), against who credible allegations of sexual misconduct were confirmed through an internal investigation. Instead of disciplining these senior executives, however, the individual defendants protected them. The individual defendants failed to timely disclose the harassment, and then attempted to cover up the harassment when news reports began to suggest that egregious sexual harassment and discrimination had occurred at Google.

While at Google, Rubin is also alleged to have engaged in human sex trafficking – paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to women to be, in Rubin’s own words, “owned” by him. Google, meanwhile, had paid lobbyists to oppose legislation in Washington that had bi-partisan support and south to combat human sex trafficking.

“There has been substantial evidence of sexual harassment at Google, and yet there hasn’t been the appropriate follow-through,” one of the plaintiff’s attorneys said during a recent press conference. “In fact, quite to the contrary, the perpetrators of the sexual harassment have been awarded handsomely.”

It’s also worth noting that Google’s handling of Rubin’s case elicited quite a response from Google employees as well, culminating in a coordinated global walkout among employees in November.

“Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in the wake of the protests. “We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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