Google Judge Sees Promise of Reform in Sex Misconduct Settlement

Google agreed to “meaningful governance reforms and financial commitments” to address reports of sexual harassment and data mishandling, a judge said in granting provisional approval to a settlement of investor lawsuits.

Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent, pledged last month to spend $310 million over the next 10 years to expand diversity efforts, weed out sexual harassment and prevent future data breaches. The Silicon Valley giant also vowed to allow more transparency and oversight of how it awards bonuses to executives leaving the company.

Investors sued last year after it was revealed that the company awarded a $90 million exit package to executive Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile operating system, even though he was under investigation for sexual harassment at the time.

Read More: Google Board Sued for Hushing Claims of Executive Misconduct

In a tentative ruling approving the settlement, California Superior Court Judge Brian Walsh in San Jose castigated Alphabet for using “its reputation for ‘good’ to ward off serious inquiry into deep-seated culture problems.” He also said that the company had done nothing to claw back the bonuses that went to Rubin and other executives who got big payouts after being accused of sexual harassment.

But Walsh concluded the proposed accord is “fair and reasonable.”

“Ultimately, the court believes that preventing further incidents like those described by plaintiffs will be more valuable to the company and its shareholders than any likely financial recovery in this action, and it appears that the reforms negotiated by the parties are well-designed to accomplish this,” he wrote.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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