Board of Google parent investigating sexual misconduct cases

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In response to shareholder lawsuits, the board at Google parent Alphabet is investigating claims of sexual misconduct made against executives and how the company handled them.

CNBC first reported Wednesday that the company has hired an outside firm to examine how its executives handled sexual misconduct allegations.

The investigation follows lawsuits brought by shareholders after reports of sexual harassment at Google received national attention last year. One lawsuit claims the board played an active part in approving a multimillion severance package to a former executive, even after he had been accused of sexual misconduct and the claims had been found credible.

Thousands of Google employees walked out of work last fall to protest the company's handling of sexual misconduct claims and payouts. The New York Times last year revealed that Android creator Andy Rubin received $90 million in severance after several employees filed misconduct allegations against him.

Another shareholder suit filed earlier this year revealed the board had approved a $35 million exit package to another former executive.

Recently, another executive — Alphabet chief legal officer David Drummond — has faced accusations of inappropriate relationships with employees that came to light when former Google employee Jennifer Blakely published a report of her relationship with Drummond in August.

Drummond has acknowledged a relationship with Blakely, but in a carefully worded statement appeared to deny involvement with other Google employees.

Claims against Drummond are reportedly part of the board investigation.

Alphabet confirmed in a statement that the board has formed a committee to look into lawsuit claims.

"As has already been confirmed in public court filings, in early 2019, Alphabet's Board of Directors formed a special litigation committee to consider claims made by shareholders in various lawsuits relating to past workplace conduct," an Alphabet spokesperson said in a statement.