Over 200 Google employees will participate in a company-wide walkout Thursday after the New York Times reported that the company paid a $90 million exit package to Android mobile software creator, Andy Rubin, despite sacking 48 people over sexual harassment claims over the last 24 months.
The Times report claimed that Rubin coerced a woman into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013, and granted his severance package in 2014 after the allegations came to light.
What Google did not make public was that an employee had accused Mr. Rubin of sexual misconduct. The woman, with whom Mr. Rubin had been having an extramarital relationship, said he coerced her into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013, according to two company executives with knowledge of the episode. Google investigated and concluded her claim was credible, said the people, who spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing confidentiality agreements. Mr. Rubin was notified, they said, and Mr. Page asked for his resignation. -NYT
And as the Times notes: "Google could have fired Mr. Rubin and paid him little to nothing on the way out. Instead, the company handed him a $90 million exit package, paid in installments of about $2 million a month for four years, said two people with knowledge of the terms. The last payment is scheduled for next month."
Google, meanwhile, fired 13 senior managers out of the 48 fired for misconduct, according to BuzzFeed, and "None of these individuals received an exit package."
“Personally, I’m furious,” said one Google employee who requested anonymity. “I feel like there’s a pattern of powerful men getting away with awful behavior towards women at Google‚ or if they don’t get away with it, they get a slap on the wrist, or they get sent away with a golden parachute, like Andy Rubin. And it’s a leadership of mostly men making the decisions about what kind of consequences to give, or not give.” -BuzzFeed
While Google attempted damage control last Thursday with an all-hands meeting, frustrated employees in a group for woman engineers "began upvoting a post on an internal Google forum that suggested employees stage a walkout." By Monday morning, hundreds of co-workers had upvoted it according to a current employee, while those committing to Thursday's walkout has swelled to over 200.
Don't be evil?
Thursday's walkout is the latest in a series of internal protests by Google's outraged Silicon Valley employees. In recent months, employees have revolted over revelations that the Mountain View, CA company was helping the Department of Defense develop drone warfare technology as part of "Project Maven." Separately, thousands of employees signed a letter opposing the company's censored search engine they have been developing for the Chinese government, code-named "Dragonfly."
Google has promised to cancel the Maven contract after a dozen employees quit in protest, however CEO Sunday Pichai maintains that the company will continue to explore opportunities in China.
Employees participating in this movement for increased transparency and ethics within Google have presented management with petitions, made demands for greater employee oversight into product decisions made by management, and even quit their jobs in protest of Google’s decisions. Increasingly, employees have been signing their names to a spreadsheet, refusing to participate in screening interviews for potential new hires at Google as a form of protest.
“Some people are definitely talking about joining that now because of the latest harassment and abuse stories,” the anonymous Google employee said. -BuzzFeed
Meanwhile, there have reportedly been internal deliberations about the possible removal of senior executives mentioned in the Times story over their own inappropriate workplace romances. According to BuzzFeed, "A source familiar with those discussions noted that some employees are unhappy that the "old guard" at Google still remains in positions of importance at the company, pointing to cofounder Sergey Brin, who had a consensual extramarital relationship with an employee; Senior Vice President of Corporate Development David Drummond, who fathered a child with a junior employee; and Google X director Richard DeVaul, whose alleged sexual harassment of a prospective hire was detailed in the Times."
Last week Rubin tweeted "The New York Times story contains numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation," adding "Specifically, I never coerced a woman to have sex in a hotel room. These false allegations are part of a smear campaign."
1/2 The New York Times story contains numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation. Specifically, I never coerced a woman to have sex in a hotel room. These false allegations are part of a smear campaign— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) October 26, 2018
2/2 to disparage me during a divorce and custody battle. Also, I am deeply troubled that anonymous Google executives are commenting about my personnel file and misrepresenting the facts.— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) October 26, 2018
Would the New York Times do that?