The manner wherein Android creator Andy Rubin left Google in 2014 was even messier than previously thought, which is saying something given how the original story included rather explicit sexual harassment allegations.
According to a newly unsealed shareholder lawsuit filed in Santa Clara, California, Mr. Rubin received a $150-million stock grant directly from Lary Page who served as Google Chief Executive Officer at the time. The grant was only approved by the Leadership Development and Compensation Committee retroactively and while the share package never vested, it's understood Mr. Rubin used it to leverage a massive severance package worth $90 million in cash which was paid out.
Ex-VP of Google Search Amit Singhal received a $15-million severance payment after being accused of sexual harassment as well, the lawsuit alleges. Mr. Singhal was initially set to receive a much larger payout but the firm managed to lower the final figure after the industry veteran was offered a position at Uber and was eager to resolve his employment status as quickly as possible. Mr. Singhal denied the accusations of sexual harassment which also cost him his role of Engineering SVP at Uber where he was fired for not disclosing the claims while interviewing for the position.
The litigation describes both packages as hush payments, which is a notion that's already been floated in the media. If that characterization is accurate, Google obviously failed at keeping a lid on the sexual harassment incidents involving its top officials. Much like Mr. Singhal, Mr. Rubin denied the accusations against him on several occasions but seemingly acknowledged being in a relationship with a subordinate during his time at the Mountain View, California-based Internet juggernaut.
The lawsuit doesn't neglect to reference previous reports of his Google tenure, including the NYT's claims that Mr. Rubin paid for "ownership relationships" with women and kept inappropriate videos on his work computer which were later discovered by security staff. To this date, the entrepreneur's version of the story is that he left Google of his own volition in order to try something new. Insider claims cited by several reports compiled in the lawsuit paint a different picture, suggesting Mr. Rubin was given a choice of resigning or being fired after the full extent of his supposed misconduct became known internally.
The defendants are consequently accused of breaking their fiduciary duty, gross mismanagement, unjust enrichment, waste of corporate assets, and control abuse. She shareholder group pushing for litigation is demanding a trial by jury, seeking damages with interest meant to be repaid to the firm. A forced corporate reform intended to break apart the predatory culture that led to the alleged sexual harassment is also on the list of demands, as are stronger board oversight mechanisms and a move away from the frequent reliance on non-disclosure agreements which often stand in the way of such cases.
Google suffered massive financial and reputational damage as a result of how Mr. Rubin's case and similar situations were handled by its top executives, the plaintiffs conclude. No official reaction to the complaint which also names the other Google co-founder Sergey Brin as a defendant has yet been sent from Mountain View.