Google announced that it has fired 48 employees for sexual harassment during the past two years and sent them away without severance packages, hours after a news report that it had protected some male executives facing sexual misconduct allegations and offered them large sums to leave the company.
The surprise disclosure Thursday came in an email to Google employees from CEO Sundar Pichai. It was a direct response to a New York Times report that the company had dismissed the executive in charge of its Android software for sexual misconduct in 2014 and paid him handsomely — $90 million — to leave.
A spokesman for Andy Rubin, the former Android executive, said he left on his own accord and has never been informed of any accusations of sexual misconduct. Rubin acknowledges having consensual sexual relationships with Google employees that didn't report to him, adhering to the boundaries drawn by Google policy at that time, according to the spokesman, Sam Singer.
The Times story was based on unidentified people and court documents, including some filed in an ongoing divorce between Rubin and his wife. The Times reported that Google also protected two other executives accused of sexual misconduct, ousting one with a severance package while retaining another.
In his email, Pichai said Google adopted tougher policies in 2015. Those rules require all of Google's vice presidents and senior vice presidents to disclose any relationship with an employee, even if they don't work in the same department or have any other potential conflict.