A New York Times report revealed Thursday that Google has given generous severance packages to executives who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct, while also keeping the circumstances behind their exits quiet.
Most notably, Google gave a $90 million severance (paid over four years) to Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, when he was asked to resign in 2014 in the midst of an accusation that Rubin had coerced another employee into sexual activity in a hotel room in 2013.
Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Brenner of The New York Times report:
Mr. Rubin was one of three executives that Google protected over the past decade after they were accused of sexual misconduct. 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. In a third, the executive remained in a highly compensated post at the company. Each time Google stayed silent about the accusations against the men.
In an internal memo obtained by The Washington Post, Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said that while as many as 48 employees had been fired from Google for sexual harassment or misconduct, none of them received severance money. Pichai called the NYT report “difficult to read.”
What did Rubin do?
Rubin was accused by a Google employee with whom he was having an affair of coercing her into performing oral sex in 2013. The woman’s accusation was investigated and deemed credible by Google, and former Google CEO Larry Page asked him to resign.
Anonymous Google employees told The New York Times that Rubin was often verbally abusive to subordinates, and that he once had his annual bonus docked when security staff found bondage sex videos on his work computer.
Rubin’s ex-wife, Rie Rubin, said in recent civil suit that Andy Rubin was in multiple extramarital “ownership” relationships with other women, including some Google employees, in which he would pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Being owned is kinda like you are my property, and I can loan you to other people,” Rubin wrote to one of these women, according to a screenshot of an August 2015 email.
When Rubin resigned, Google made it seem like he was leaving on good terms, with Page saying in a statement “I want to wish Andy all the best.”
Adding to the appearance of an amicable split, Google invested in a venture firm that Rubin started soon after he left the company.
Google’s official response to its handling of the departures of employees accused of sexual misconduct is that it is “dead serious” about allegations.