- Google parent Alphabet has settled a shareholder lawsuit that accused the company of mishandling sexual harassment claims.
- The settlement eliminates forced arbitration for employees, and limit the use of non-disclosure agreements.
- It’s also agreed to spend $310 million on corporate diversity programs over the next decade.
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Alphabet has settled a shareholder lawsuit that accused the company’s board of mishandling sexual harassment claims.
As per details shared by one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the settlement eliminates the forcing of employees involved in discrimination or harassment disputes to settle with private arbitration, and limits Google’s use of non-disclosure agreements.
It was also agreed that employees who depart the company while under investigation for claims of sexual misconduct will not receive any severance or compensation.
Google also agreed to spend $310 million on corporate diversity programs over 10 years as part of the settlement. Those efforts will include building a new diversity, equity, and inclusion council, Eileen Naughton, Google’s VP of people operations told employees in an email sent on Friday. The email was later shared on the company’s external blog.
In 2018, The New York Times reported that Google approved a $90 exit package for Andy Rubin, an executive who had been accused of sexual misconduct.
A coalition of law firms later filed a series of shareholder lawsuits against Google, which were eventually consolidated into a single case.
“This settlement will not only change and improve the culture at Google, but it will set the standard for culture change at tech companies throughout Silicon Valley,” said Ann Ravel, an attorney who led parts of the settlement negotiation, in a statement.
Late last year, Alphabet’s board launched an investigation into the company’s mishandling of sexual-misconduct allegations, including those made against Alphabet’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond.
Drummond left the company earlier this year following allegations that he had relationships with subordinates at the company.
Google announced an end to mandatory arbitration in 2018 following an employee walkout, but this will now apply to all of Alphabet companies. Naughton said that all of the new changes being introduced will apply to all of Alphabet’s “other bets” such as Verily, Waymo, and Wing.
The new DEI council will be made of Google executives including CEO Sundar Pichai, and external experts including former US federal judge Nancy Gertner.
“Over the past several years, we have been taking a harder line on inappropriate conduct, and have worked to provide better support to the people who report it,” said Naughton. “Protecting our workplace and culture means getting both of these things right, and in recent years we’ve worked hard to set and uphold higher standards for the whole company. “
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