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U.S. Business Google approved $45-million exit package for executive accused of misconduct

Alphabet’s board of directors agreed to pay a former top Google executive as much as $45-million when he resigned from the company in 2016 after being accused of groping a subordinate.

The previously unknown sum was part of the separation agreement for Amit Singhal, a senior vice president who ran Google’s search operations until February 2016. The amount was revealed Monday in a shareholder lawsuit accusing the board of directors of Alphabet, the parent of Google, of shirking their responsibilities by agreeing to pay executives accused of misconduct instead of firing them for cause.

The suit was part of the fallout over how Google has handled sexual harassment cases. The New York Times reported in October that Google had paid several high-ranking executives who were credibly accused of sexual harassment large sums in separation agreements, even though the men could have been fired for cause. In one case, Google handed a $90-million exit package to Andy Rubin, who used to head its Android division, after he was accused of sexual misconduct.

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The lawsuit said Google had agreed to pay Singhal $15-million a year for two years and then between $5-million and $15-million in the third year as long as he was not employed by a competitor. He agreed to take a job at Uber about a year after his departure.

Singhal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suit also cited board meeting minutes confirming The Times’ report of a $90-million exit package for Rubin. The agreement for Rubin was also contingent on his agreeing to refrain from working with competitors.

The payout for Rubin sparked widespread outrage at Google and, last fall, prompted a walkout of 20,000 employees who demanded that the company improve its handling of harassment claims.

The shareholder lawsuit was filed in January with redactions in the passages referring to board discussions, but an amended version was refiled Monday without the redactions.

“There are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately at Google,” a Google spokeswoman said Monday. “In recent years, we’ve made many changes to our workplace and taken an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority.”

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