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Alphabet agrees to eliminate arbitation in sexual misconduct claims

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Google's parent company, Alphabet, agreed to spend $310 million over the next 10 years on diversity programs and hand over greater oversight to its board of directors on sexual misconduct claims in settling a series of shareholder lawsuits Friday.

The settlement, filed in California Superior Court, prohibits Alphabet's use of private arbitrators to settle those and other disputes. That was one of the changes employees wanted when some of the sexual harassment cases against the company became public.

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Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, one of the firms representing Alphabet shareholders, said in a statement the company also agreed to limit its use of non-disclosure agreements, and address corrective action recommendations across business units to ensure consistent consequences for the same misconduct.

"The settlement fundamentally alters Alphabet's workplace policies, including eliminating mandatory arbitration in harassment, discrimination and retaliation-related disputes and the use of one-sided disclosure agreements that silence victims and enable powerful harassers," shareholder attorney Julie Goldsmith Reiser said in a statement.

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"These changes, along with the financial commitment to [diversity, equity and inclusion] initiatives, position Alphabet to lead as much in workplace equity as it is done in technology and innovation," Goldsmith Reiser said.

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Alphabet faced numerous lawsuits after The New York Times reported in 2018 that executive Andy Rubin received a $90 million exit package by the board of directors after facing sexual harassment claims.

"The Alphabet settlement also institutes governance measures to ensure that Alphabet's board is informed of and accountable for overseeing risks arising from sexual harassment by executives and, more broadly, fostering a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture, the law firm said.

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