Alphabet scrutinizing handling of misconduct claims


SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 7, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Google’s parent company Alphabet
confirmed Wednesday that its board is investigating how executives handled
accusations of misconduct including sexual harassment.

“In early 2019, Alphabet’s board of directors formed a special litigation
committee to consider claims made by shareholders in various lawsuits
relating to past workplace conduct,” an Alphabet spokesperson told AFP.

The board hired a law firm to help the committee, which was to contact
those who filed complaints and scrutinize cases, including one involving the
Alphabet chief legal officer, according to a CNBC report citing unspecified
material it had seen.

Google in November outlined changes to its handling of sexual misconduct
complaints, hoping to calm outrage that triggered a worldwide walkout of

“We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past
and we are sincerely sorry for that,” chief executive Sundar Pichai said at
the time in a message to employees, a copy of which was shared with AFP.

“It’s clear we need to make some changes.”

Pichai promised that Google would be more transparent with how concerns are
dealt with, and provide better support and care to those who raise such
issues with the company.

Google would provide “more granularity” regarding sexual harassment
investigations and their outcomes, according to Pichai.

Google announced updates to its mandatory sexual harassment training and
said it would require it annually instead of every two years, as had been the

Google also put the onus on team leaders to tighten the tap on booze at
company events, on or off campus, to curtail the potential for drunken

Despite the assurances, shareholders filed lawsuits against Alphabet
accusing it of covering up sexual misconduct.

Thousands of Google employees joined a coordinated worldwide walkout late
last year to protest the US tech giant’s handling of sexual harassment. A
massive turnout at the “Googleplex” in Silicon Valley was the final stage of
a global walkout that began in Asia and spread to Google offices in Europe.

Some 20,000 Google employees and contractors participated in the protest in
50 cities around the world, according to organizers.

The protest took shape after Google said it had fired 48 employees in the
prior two years — including 13 senior executives — as a result of
allegations of sexual misconduct.

Demands by protestors included putting employee representation on the