Google agreed to pay $135 million to two former executives accused of sexual harassment, it confirmed to The Verge today. We now know from a newly unsealed lawsuit that former senior search vice president Amit Singhal was initially offered $45 million, triple the amount he ended up walking away with.
The figure was first reported by CNBC, which spotted a newly unsealed shareholder lawsuit against the company. According to the suit, former head of Android Andy Rubin allegedly received an offer for a $150 million stock grant, which he then allegedly used to negotiate the $90 million in severance pay we’d heard about in previous reports. Singhal’s $45 million offer was reduced to $15 million because he joined a rival company, Uber. Google has now confirmed these numbers to The Verge.
The news of the payouts, originally reported by the New York Times last October, led to protests on Google’s campus last November.
Sued by shareholders for abuse of power and corporate waste
Rubin’s $90 million severance package automatically canceled out the $150 million stock grant he was initially offered, so he didn’t get both as some publications previously reported. In the end, Rubin received $90 million while Singhal received $15 million. That’s $105 million in total, lower than the $135 million that Google had originally approved.
The payments were approved by Google’s Leadership Development and Compensation Committee, according to the suit. It alleges that other Google executives allowed Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt to dominate the board committee and influence the decision to pay Rubin and Singhal.
Francis Bottini, a lawyer for the shareholders, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment. “There are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately at Google,” Google said in a statement to The Verge. “In recent years, we’ve made many changes to our workplace and taken an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority.”
The shareholder lawsuit accuses Google of breaching its fiduciary duty, abuse of power, unjust enrichment, and corporate waste. It asks for a trial and calls for Google to handle future sexual harassment accusations better. The lawsuit is also seeking punitive damages, without demanding a specific amount of money. The 202-page lawsuit is filled with 119 pages of media reports from outlets like the Wall Street Journal, BBC, and NPR as evidence to back up its claims that Google enabled rampant sexual harassment from senior executives.
The suit quotes an anonymous Google employee who said: “When Google covers up harassment and passes the trash, it contributes to an environment where people don’t feel safe reporting misconduct. They suspect that nothing will happen, or, worse, that the men will be paid and the women will be pushed aside.”
Google employees protested how the company had handled sexual harassment complaints last November. In response, the company agreed to end its forced arbitration policy in cases of discrimination and harassment. It also promised to end pay and opportunity inequity and make its annual internal report on incidents of sexual harassment available to all employees.