back to article Alphabet board smacked with sueball for paying off Google execs accused of sexual harassment

Another day, another anti-Google lawsuit – this time over claims Alphabet, adtech monolith Google's holding company, "failed to take meaningful steps to address a pervasive culture of harassment and discrimination". The case, brought by the Northern California Pipe Trades Pension Plan and Teamsters Local 272 Labor Management …

  1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    PR stunt

    The case doesn't have much legal merit. If people left voluntarily then there is no case to answer. If they were guilty of harassment then there would be no need to pay them off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PR stunt

      f they were guilty of harassment then there would be no need to pay them off.

      You - sure. Me - sure. Member of the C*** suite - share what you are smoking, I am in need of something to cheer up my day.

    2. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: PR stunt

      You've not been reading the news, I gather...

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: PR stunt

      There is a difference between being marched out the door and landing on your rear and being bribed to leave quietly to avoid a scandal...

    4. jaduncan

      Re: PR stunt

      Quite aside from your misunderstanding of the case, are you under the impression that leaving a company means that there is no legal accountability for one's actions at the company? I mean, it's a fascinating theory. Utterly incorrect, but fascinating.

    5. owlstead

      Re: PR stunt

      Ah, it's spot the fallacy time. Which one is this?

      I'm guessing "Affirming the consequent – the antecedent in an indicative conditional is claimed to be true because the consequent is true; if A, then B; B, therefore A."

      Do I get any points or do we have another fallacy?

    6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: PR stunt

      Ooh, I could be onto a record for downvotes here! I guess we'll just have to see what the court says, but this is why companies have shareholder meetings to vote on the action of the board.

      What's that you say? No one sued Microsoft over AQuantive, Nokia, Skype? Or Jeffrey Immelt for his bad bets? Investors lost billions as a result of those decisions and they still didn't sue. Makes you wonder…

      1. KBeee

        Re: PR stunt

        I guess you missed the bit about it's the shareholders that are suing. Paying someone $90M that's accused to quietly go away looks like "look after our pals" more than "look after our shareholders"

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: PR stunt

          I guess you missed the bit about it's the shareholders that are suing.

          I didn't miss it. The whole point about AGMs is that shareholders get to vote on the actions of the board. That boards are often not held accountable is another matter (something to do with the majority of shares now being held by a couple of funds and founders holding all the votes) but the AGM should be considered as the court for shareholders.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: PR stunt

        Shareholders are not entitled to executive who will never make a bad decision - if you become a shareholder your also share the risks that a company - and you - may lose money because of several factors. To sue, you would have to demonstrate they acted to willfully damage the company.

        But sexual harassment and hush money are a wholly different thing. If they wasted shareholder money paying people who could be simply fired because they had broken law, or company rules, you're actually damaging shareholder interests - it looks the mantra "maximize shareholder value" than becomes "maximize executives self-interests".

        What damages more a company? The news that an executive is fired because caught breaking the rules, or the news that he was paid to leave the company in an attempt to keep everything quiet and avoid any liability? A later suit could cost shareholders even more if the company is found to have willfully ignored and/or covered such behaviours.

        Maybe fifty years ago that could have been kept hidden - not now anymore.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PR stunt

      There is a tricky difference between guilty enough to be asked to leave and being guilty enough to be fired without compensation. For the first one, the issue is whether it's worth trying to keep the person or it's easier to pay whatever they were going to cost you in the few next years. For the second one, the issue is whether it's worth a wrongful termination lawsuit, where you need to convince the court that the firing was justified, which generally requires a much higher standard.

      In this particular case, the guy had unfortunately just been awarded $150 millions to reward him for his accomplishments (according to the NYT article). So the guy had a good argument that this money was owed to him, never mind that he was only supposed to receive it over the next few years. He could convincingly argue in court that Google was trying to get rid of him on a flimsy excuse so that they wouldn't have to pay him (see the lawsuits from Oracle sales rep canned before receiving their commissions). And then, possibly, they would have to give him back his job and/or even more money as damage.

  2. Valeyard

    This is why Google is so PC

    They doth protest too much.

    Wax lyrical about equality, whilst behind the conference room doors the people most proud of their egalitarian reputation are backing female devs into the corner of the room

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: This is why Google is so PC

      good observation. You may very well be right.

  3. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "...end the hostile work environment at the company as well as its pattern of non-compliance with data laws..."

    ... and on that day, Satan will be ice-skating to work.

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Why a sueball?

    This is a union's pension so why don't they just sell of the Google stock and move on to another investment? Or if they're so outraged over this, why not do a class action suit and get all the investors involved. I realize it's probably greed but still....

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