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    • There's a ton of news coverage about Google paying exit packages to two well known employees with sexual-harassment allegations. I'm unclear on why Google has to or choosing to pay them exit packages.

      Why? It's not for retention obviously, was there a structure to their contracts that required it?

    • I think it comes down to a choice of economics. It's a certainty that he has a Golden Parachute in his contract of some form or another. It seems like sexual assault should void the contract, but that will require a legal battle in which the accused will fight pretty hard to keep the money.

      I suspect Google has weighed:
      a) Quietly pay him $135m and be done with it, taking a minor hit to public image.
      b) Let him continue and do nothing, which could do significant damage to public image over a sustained period of time.
      c) Withhold the money for moral reasons, even though the ensuing legal battle will have significant impact on the public image of Google. Not to mention a huge distraction for the company.

      They ended up determining that the cost of b & c are far more costly than just doing a.

    • I think they misjudged this one. I can understand leaning towards the right business decision but this one strikes me as way off the mark. The exit payment should have been put on hold indefinitely until there was conclusive info. And if the accused are guilty, they should have to fight in court for the money.

      I think it's safe to say that paying for things to go away quietly doesn't work as well anymore. Social media doesn't hold much regard for non-disclosure agreements.

      Having a clear moral compass and values to treat humans humanly might be the best business strategy long term.

    • Unfortunately, I know one of the players very well and he was involved in a very high-profile affair at General Magic, allegedly, where we both worked. It was fairly scandalous because a prominent figure in HR was caught up in it too.

      I don't know anything about what happened at Google but it sounds bad.

    • I agree. These huge payouts make it clear that Google's corporate moral compass operates differently than ours.

      Assuming the employees had golden parachutes and there was a sexual harassment clause, paying out still could be in Google's best interest to avoid more exposure to the harassment allegations in court. If the employee sues because he is not paid out on his exit, the onerous is on Google to prove sexual harassment happened. Those court proceedings will be undeniably bad for the brand because it will reveal how Google let it happen. The brand tarnishment would be especially bad if it was revealed that other management was complicit in the harassment or a cover-up.

      There is no good outcome for Google in this situation.

    • Is getting out in front of these type of situations not an option? Why couldn't Google have come out and basically announced that it happened, fired the person and said they aren't paying the exit package etc. Should Google be hiding everything or avoiding having the press cover what happens when people work there?

      I assume Google can't be held accountable for every individual that works there but at least act responsibly when they become aware of an issue. Maybe they are at fault for letting people believe they can conduct themselves this way and not have to worry about Google going public.

      Maybe i'm missing something.

    • Ultimately, they are a publicly traded corporation and have a fiduciary duty to the investors to minimize the risk of loss to their short-term and long-term bottom lines. I would never have heard this story if you hadn’t posted it here. There’s so much news out each day that for most people this is already forgotten.

      I suspect their lawyers and PR firm did an analysis and decided $135 million was a nothing charge to the current quarter compared to a protracted legal battle that was regularly in the news. Plus, if they were to be sued, things go to the discovery process. Meaning that emails that Google would prefer to keep private can be disclosed in court or leaked to the press. Even if Google did nothing wrong, these disclosures could create the impression that Google should’ve caught this sooner or that additional alleged abusers still work at Google.

      I understand the moral high ground, but settling seems like the most prudent thing for Google to have done.

    • I've been involved in sexual harassment cases three times in different decades and each time it stumped us all on how to handle it.

      It typically goes like this: women get approached in ways that make them uncomfortable but offers plausible deniability to the men involved. The women want to report it but fear it will hurt their careers. They feel they can't go to HR because HR is on the side of the men who run the company because they have their own careers to consider.

      So sometimes the women confide in someone like me about what to do. I don't know what to do because they insist on confidentiality, and for good reason — for preservation of their careers. I know the men involved but can't say a thing and the men behave like perfect gentleman in front of me or HR or anyone else, perhaps to cover their tendencies, I don't know. I encourage the women to go to HR for the sake of the other women, but they are too afraid.

      The women do a whisper campaign among the other women as a collective effort to defend them. Some of the other women get mad at the company, as they should. They encourage the women who felt harassed to go to HR. They won't.

      In the cases I've been involved in, the women who felt harassed and confided in other women felt they might get outed and fear it will hurt their careers. So they leave and don't tell the real reason why they left.

      The women who remain and know the situation get angry because of the unfairness of it all. They may give their heard-from-someone account to HR and the company is left to try and unravel it all. The accused men act incensed and say this is why they cannot take a female coworker to lunch like they can a male. Most of the women who felt harassed are never willing to speak and they won't let someone like me say anything either. I don't blame them, I'm just describing the situation.

      They often say "See what happened to Anita Hill? How about the women who accused Trump, an admitted sexual predator? How about the Kavanaugh hearings? No one in the highest levels of the law seem to know what to do."

      Does the company let these accused men go? Will those men sue the company for ruining their careers without enough evidence? Or do you give them the benefit of the doubt and let them be President and Supreme Court Justice while wrecking the lives of the women who were willing to say something?