Google approved $45-million exit payout to India-born executive accused of sexual misconduct in 2016

Google agreed to pay a former top executive $45 million when he left the company after being found guilty of sexual misconduct in 2016, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Amit Singhal, who headed Google’s search business, quit in February 2016, but the reason became clear only a year later through a media report. His employer at the time, Uber, sacked him for not disclosing the matter.

The exit package was revealed on Monday in a lawsuit accusing Alphabet’s board of directors of “abdication of responsibility” by approving such payments for executives accused of sexual misconduct. The lawsuit was filed by a Google shareholder in January, but an amended version with more details was filed on Monday. Alphabet is the parent company of Google.

The lawsuit claimed that Google had agreed to pay Singhal $15 million a year for two years and between $5 million and $15 million in the third year as long as he was not employed by a competitor, according to The New York Times. He ended up getting $15 million only as he joined Uber in January 2017, reported CNBC.

The lawsuit also showed that Google had approved a $90-million payout for Andy Rubin, who was also accused of sexual misconduct. This was a confirmation of a New York Times report in October 2018, which had sparked protests across all Google offices, with thousands of employees staging walkouts in protest against the company’s treatment of women.

In November 2018, days after the walkouts, Google announced a number of changes to its sexual harassment policies, including an end to forced arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, enabling lawsuits in these matters. However, several other core demands were ignored.

Amit Singhal was born in India and joined Google in 2000. Uber asked him to resign as senior vice president of engineering in February 2017 for failing to inform the company about a sexual harassment allegation made against him while he worked at Google. Uber was informed of the allegations by technology website Recode. In a statement to Recode, Singhal denied the allegations against him and said the decision to leave Google was his own.

The employee who had filed the complaint against Singhal did not publicly declare the charges, according to Google officials who spoke to Recode.