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Alphabet Seeks Quiet End to Investor Suits Over Sex Harassment

Gerrit De Vynck and Joel Rosenblatt

(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc. is pursuing mediation to settle investor litigation alleging the company let senior leaders at Google get away with sexual harassment and misconduct for years.

Company directors this year set up a special committee to evaluate the claims after several shareholder groups sued, alleging that the board failed in its duties by allowing harassment, approving big payouts to departing executives and keeping the details under wraps. The committee recommended that the case go through private mediation, a closed-door process, according to a filing in California state court in San Jose.

Both sides agreed to extend Alphabet’s deadline to respond to the claims until Feb. 14 to accommodate the mediation, according to the filing.

Google’s handling of sexual harassment and misconduct has been a major flashpoint over the last two years. Thousands of employees walked off the job last year to protest the company’s policies after a New York Times report detailed how Google paid Android founder Andy Rubin $90 million in severance even after an employee accused him of sexual harassment.

Google has since changed some of its policies and no longer bars employees from signing away their right to bring complaints in court.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the litigation. Louise Renne, a lawyer representing investors, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The lead case is In Re Alphabet Inc. Shareholder Derivative Litigation, 19CV341522, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County (San Jose).

To contact the reporters on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at gdevynck@bloomberg.net;Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, ;David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter Blumberg, Andrew Pollack

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