Hundreds of Google employees walk out to protest million-dollar settlements for sexual harassers
Hundreds of people walked off their jobs at Google around the world on Thursday in protest of settlements given to men accused of sexual harassment and misconduct – including one of over $90 million.
The walkout was taking place all over the world – with men and women protesting on the street against the complaints of sexism, racism and unchecked executive power in their workplace. U.S. and Canadian walkouts are scheduled for 11:10 a.m. local times.
It was planned after a New York Times investigation found a pattern of men abusing people on their teams – and still given multi-million dollar exit settlements.
Andy Rubin, a former Google executive credited with creating the Android operating system, left Google in 2014 with a $90-million package.
But it was revealed by the Times that Google executives asked for Rubin’s resignation after an employee accused Rubin of sexual misconduct, specifically that he coerced the female employee to perform oral sex.
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The woman and Rubin had been involved in an extramarital relationship, the New York Times reported.
A Google investigation found the woman’s claims to be credible, and Rubin was asked to resign. But instead of firing him, the company, whose motto is “Don’t be evil,” gave him a generous exit package and publicly lauded his accomplishments.
After his departure, the company invested significantly in his next project.
Rubin’s spokesperson denied the story and said the “false accusations” were part of a “smear campaign by [his] ex-wife.”
Rubin’s story isn’t unique.
“In two instances, it ousted senior executives, but softened the blow by paying them millions of dollars as they departed, even though it had no legal obligation to do so,” the New York Times wrote.
The story also outlines a culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the company.
In a statement late Wednesday, the organizers of the worldwide walkout called on Google parent Alphabet Inc to add an employee representative to its board of directors and internally share pay-equity data. They also asked for changes to Google’s human resources practices intended to make bringing harassment claims a fairer process.
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said in a statement that “employees have raised constructive ideas” and that the company was “taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”
But organizers said Google executives, like leaders at other companies affected by the #metoo movement, have been slow to address some structural issues.
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“While Google has championed the language of diversity and inclusion, substantive actions to address systemic racism, increase equity, and stop sexual harassment have been few and far between,” organizers stated.
They said Google must publicly report its sexual harassment statistics and end forced arbitration in harassment cases. In addition, they asked that the chief diversity officer be able to directly advise the board.
— With files from Reuters
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