Google staffers allege tech giant shields top honchos in sex abuse cases

Sundar_Pichai.jpg

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

More than 1,000 employees of tech giant Google have sent an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, demanding that the company stop protecting harassers and provide workers an environment free from their abusers.

 The letter published on Friday states that Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has a pattern of protecting those who have been accused of misconduct. They asked Alphabet Inc.Chief Executive Sundar Pichai to relieve harassers of their management responsibilities and to move them away from the employees they have been verified to have harassed.

The letter came after former Google engineer Emi Nietfeld wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times, alleging that she was forced to have one-on-one meetings with the man who harassed her.

"My harasser still sat next to me. My manager told me H.R. wouldn't even make him change his desk, let alone work from home or go on leave," she wrote.

The letter that was published on Medium late on Friday, read that "This is a long pattern where Alphabet protects the harasser instead of protecting the person harmed by the harassment. The person who reports harassment is forced to bear the burden, usually leaving Alphabet while their harasser stays or is rewarded for their behaviour".

In November 2018 thousands of Google employees had walked in protest after a New York Times story revealed that the company had paid hundreds of millions of dollars to former executives who were accused of harassment, in many cases without disclosing why they had left Google.

Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, was awarded a $90 million exit package after a woman accused him of coercing her into performing oral sex.

Amit Singhal, a former search executive, was awarded $35 million when he was forced to resign after a sexual assault investigation.

"Even after more than 20,000 Alphabet workers walked out to protest sexual harassment and protection of harassers, Alphabet has not changed, and did not meet any of the Google Walkout demands," the letter pointed out.

"Alphabet workers deserve the right to work in an environment free from their abusers. Alphabet must prioritise the safety of their workers by prioritising the concerns of those harmed," it added.

The letter, which started off Friday morning signed by a few dozen Google employees, had more than a thousand signatures at the end of the workday in California, home to the company’s headquarters.

In a statement to The Verge, a Google spokesperson said: "We've made significant improvements to our overall process, including the way we handle and investigate employee concerns, and introducing new care programmes for employees who report concerns".

Covid-19 In India