Google shielded Android co-founder Andy Rubin after an employee said that he “coerced” her into having oral sex — instead publicly praising him when he left the company with a $90 million exit package — the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Rubin, who joined Google in 2005 after it acquired Android, was having an extramarital affair with an unnamed woman who accused him of sexual misconduct, according to the paper. She had “cooled on him,” the Times reports, but felt ending the relationship would hurt her career. In March 2013, two company executives told the Times that “she agreed to meet him at a hotel, where she said he pressured her into oral sex, they said. The incident ended the relationship.”
The woman filed a complaint with Google HR in 2014, according to the Times. Google approved a $150 million grant to Rubin weeks after the complaint was filed, although it is “unclear,” according to the Times, if Google co-founder Larry Page and other decision makers knew about the sexual misconduct accusations at the time. Page had felt that Rubin hadn’t been properly compensated for his contributions to Android and Google, according to the Times.
Google eventually concluded that the woman’s complaint was “credible,” according to the Times. The company chose to praise Rubin when he exited in 2014 — “I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next,” Page said in a statement at the time. The company could’ve fired Rubin instead, according to the Times, and paid him next to nothing.
Sam Singer, a representative for Rubin, disputed the executive had been told about a misconduct claim at Google and told the Times Rubin left the company of his own volition. Singer told the Times that Rubin did not engage in sexual misconduct and said: “any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual and did not involve any person who reported directly to him.”
A rep for Rubin at Essential, his phone company, did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
The New York Times report was “difficult to read,” according to a copy of an email sent to employees by Sundar Pichai, CEO, and Eileen Naughton, VP People Operations and provided by a Google spokesperson to TheWrap.
“We are dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace. We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action,” Pichai and Naughton wrote.
Pichai and Naughton’s email continued:
In recent years, we’ve made a number of changes, including taking an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority: in the last two years, 48 people have been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. None of these individuals received an exit package.
In 2015, we launched Respect@ and our annual Internal Investigations Report to provide transparency about these types of investigations at Google. Because we know that reporting harassment can be traumatic, we provide confidential channels to share any inappropriate behavior you experience or see. We support and respect those who have spoken out. You can find many ways to do this at go/saysomething. You can make a report anonymously if you wish.
We’ve also updated our policy to require all VPs and SVPs to disclose any relationship with a co-worker regardless of reporting line or presence of conflict.
We are committed to ensuring that Google is a workplace where you can feel safe to do your best work, and where there are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately.
Rubin was one of three executives accused of sexual misconduct Google “protected,” the Times says, in the last decade. The NYT reports: “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.”
You can read the full report here.