Google X director Rich DeVaul, has now resigned from his position at the company and won't be receiving a severance package, according to unnamed sources reported as close to the matter. The executive's departure has yet to be verified by the Alphabet-owned company or its counterpart Google. However, if accurate, the circumstances of the departure are likely related to recent reports involving Mr. DeVaul and several other executives at Alphabet's various subsidiaries. Namely, the executive was one of several employees facing allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment while at the company.
Background: Mr. DeVaul's own accusations stem from back in 2013, with claims surfacing that the executive had propositioned a hardware engineer named Star Simpson during the process of an interview. Specifically, the circumstances of the allegation begin with Mr. DeVaul suggesting that he and his wife were 'polyamorous' before asking Ms. Simpson to accompany him to Burning Man in Nevada. While at the gathering, Mr. DeVaul is said to have asked Ms. Simpson to remove her shirt with the promise of a back rub. The offer was refused and Ms. Simpson was later informed that she did not get the job. When human resources officials at Google were contacted about the ordeal, they reportedly asked that the alleged victim remain quiet about the instance and indicated that appropriate steps had been taken in response to the allegation. The company denied the latter allegation but cited employee confidentiality with regard to the exact nature of its response to the claim.
In the meantime, DeVaul is not the only employee to stand accused of similar misconduct and abuse. The allegations have included those at nearly every executive level within the company. Furthermore, because of the company's previous missteps in giving some of those who have already been fired or left the organization severance or exit packages, the controversy appears to be growing exponentially. For example, Andy Rubin, who is arguably on of the most important figure behind the eventual release of Android, stepped away from the company with over $90 million despite accusations of sexual assault. Meanwhile, Google's responses to the allegations have been mixed, at best. In one email responding to more recent reports, the company failed to address the underlying misconduct in question. That particular communication chose instead to focus on the past couple of years with regard to improvements the company is making in a more general sense with regard to employment and policies. However, the company did confirm that thirteen upper-level employees of a total of 48 former employees were fired over the course of two years for related conduct.
Impact: In light of the ongoing discourse and the amount of effort the company is undertaking to try and preserve its image, the controversy surrounding Google has continued to grow. In fact, several hundred Google employees have planned a company-wide walkout in response, set to take place on November 2. What's more, employees have actively positioned for the removal of other accused employees such as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development David Drummond while also petitioning for the removal of key figures in the company – including Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt. The apparent upheaval and ensuing internal struggles that Google is facing are likely having serious ramifications for Alphabet as a whole, as pressure mounts in pursuit of more straightforward answers and a more direct response to the accusations.
However, this latest report could also signify a shift in how the company is responding to these types of allegations. If true, it will have essentially shown that the company can and will fire its high-level employees from a position of relative, albeit experimental, importance without any of the usual exit pay. The only questions that remain are whether it will take further steps or further corrective steps in response to other ongoing controversies of a similar nature and whether that will help reduce the internal turmoil at all.