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Google workers walk off job amid sexual harassment cases

By Nicholas Sakelaris and Danielle Haynes
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People exit the Google office on 8th Ave. and hold a rally in 14th Street Park on Thursday in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/eb9fd762196ba3202d8bc33ebb3fc6a5/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
People exit the Google office on 8th Ave. and hold a rally in 14th Street Park on Thursday in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Hundreds of Google employees across the globe walked off the job Thursday to protest the tech giant's handling of sexual harassment cases involving executives.

The event occurred one day after Rich DeVaul, an executive with Google parent company Alphabet, resigned amid sexual harassment accusations.

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The walkouts started in Asia, spreading across the globe with planned protests expected to start at 11:10 a.m. in each time zone. Workers posted photos on social media along with the hashtag #GoogleWalkout in cities including Singapore; Hyderabad, India; Berlin; Dublin; Zurich; London; and New York.

Thursday's walkout calls for several changes -- an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination, pay and opportunity equality, and a clear process for reporting sexual misconduct. Protesters also want the company's chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO and an employee representative to be placed on Google's board.

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"We're walking out in support of those who've been harassed anywhere in the workplace, and to ensure that perpetrators are not rewarded and are not protected," Sam Dutton, a developer advocate at Google in London, told CNN.

Employees who walked out planned leave a flyer at their desks that reads, "I'm not at my desk because I'm walking out in solidarity with other Googlers and contractors to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency and a workplace culture that's not working for everyone. I'll be back at my desk later."

CEO Sundar Pichai said the company was aware of the planned protests and said employees would "have the support they need if they wish to participate."

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"Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes," he said. "We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action."

DeVaul's departure followed revelations this week by The New York Times that Andy Rubin, creator of the Android software, received a $90 million severance package when he resigned in 2014 amid accusations he coerced a female co-worker into sex.

Google was not required to pay the money to Rubin, who's denied the accusations, and has declined to comment on the matter.

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The treatment of female employees at Google was a contentious issue before the recent headlines. Female employees have said, among other complaints, that they are underpaid compared to male counterparts.

"We don't want to feel we're unequal or not respected anymore," said Claire Stapleton, a product marketing manager at Google-owned YouTube. "Google's famous for its culture. But in reality we're not even meeting the basics of respect, justice and fairness for every single person here."

Other recent misconduct cases involving Google executives added fuel to the protest. The company gave former senior vice president Amit Singhal an exit package worth millions when he was forced to leave. DeVaul was initially allowed to keep his job, but resigned when the Times article was published.

Pichai and Vice President Eileen Naughton said the company fired 48 people for sexual harassment in the past two years without giving severance packages. Of those, 13 were senior managers or other high-level figures.

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