The parent company of Google is known as Alphabet. It is the fifth-largest tech company in the world, and it ranks among the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world. In January 2019, shareholders of Alphabet sued its board. The shareholders argued that the board had mishandled incidents of sexual harassment and other misconduct involving Alphabet executives. For example, Android co-founder Andy Rubin reportedly had engaged in misconduct with Alphabet employees, yet he received a $90 million payment from the company when he left in 2014. Rubin never admitted to misconduct, but the reports were sufficiently credible to trigger internal turmoil at Alphabet. Employees across multiple divisions of the company even staged a walkout in 2018 to protest what they saw as a coverup of abuse.
Initially, the shareholders brought several separate but related claims. The judge hearing the lawsuits consolidated them into a single case. The Alphabet board responded to the litigation by creating a Special Litigation Committee. This is an independent committee that will work with the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore to probe further into the allegations of sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, Alphabet asked the court to extend its deadline to respond to the lawsuit from November 8 to December 13.
Now, Alphabet again has received an extension of time to craft its response. The judge has postponed the deadline until February 14, 2020, giving the tech juggernaut another two months to frame its arguments. In the wake of the #metoo movement, the outcome of this litigation may shed light on sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the tech industry.
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