Google’s parent company, Alphabet, settled a series of suits brought by shareholders on 25-9-2020.
In the settlement, the company agreed to pay $310 million for diversity training. The settlement additionally prohibits romances between managers and employees and removes the requirement for employees to address sexual harassment claims in arbitration.
Eileen Naughton, Google’s Vice President of People Operations, released a statement to Google’s employees about the settlement Friday:
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. 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. Thank you for your clear feedback as we’ve advanced this work. The changes we’ve made to build a more equitable and respectful workplace include overhauling the way we handle and investigate employee concerns, introducing new care programs for employees who report concerns, and making arbitration optional for Google employees. In late 2018, Alphabet’s Board responded to employee concerns by overseeing a comprehensive review of policies and practices related to sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and retaliation. An independent committee of the Board also reviewed claims raised by shareholders in early 2019 about past workplace misconduct issues. Today we’re committing to five guiding principles and a list of detailed changes to our workplace policies and practices agreed to by the committee. These principles and improvements incorporate input from both employees and shareholders.
Google published a set of principles and guidelines alongside the statement.
These suits arose after a series of sexual harassment allegations became known to shareholders. In 2018, the New York Times reported that Google board members paid a top executive $90 million in an exit package for an executive accuse of sexual harassment. Five company shareholders brought suit against the board members, alleging that the board members allowed the illegal conduct and ignored fiduciary duties.
Leadership changes in Google have complemented this settlement, as the company has navigated its sexual harassment claims. In 2019, Google’s founders stepped down from day-to-day roles. That same year, a chief executive known for bringing women with whom he was having extramarital affairs to company events, resigned. Most recently, in 2020, an attorney working for Google who had an extramarital affair with one of his employees left the company.
See the settlement as well as well as the new policy.