Google agreed to pay $15 million to Amitabh Singhal Ph.D. ’96, a former senior vice president in charge of its search engine, as part of an agreement reached when Singhal resigned from the company in 2016 following accusations of sexual harassment against him, a lawsuit unsealed in early March revealed, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The civil shareholder lawsuit filed in California charged that the tech giant had repeatedly conspired to conceal claims of harassment, forcing Google to disclose documents showing that Singhal and a number of C-suite officials — including Andy Rubin, former head of Google’s Android division — had landed massive golden parachutes even as they faced serious accusations of malicious behavior.
Singhal was accused by a female Google employee of groping her at an event in 2015. Google subsequently investigated the allegations and found that he was “inebriated” at the time and the woman’s allegations were “credible,” according to The New York Times.
Singhal said in 2016 that he would be resigning from the company to focus on philanthropy and to spend more time with his family. Neither Singhal nor Google disclosed the sexual misconduct allegations at the time of his resignation.
“It has always been a priority for me to give back to people who are less fortunate, and make time for my family amidst competing work constraints — but on both fronts, I simply want to give and do more,” Singhal said in a 2016 goodbye letter, according to Recode, a technology news website.
Uber hired Singhal to be its senior vice president of engineering less than a year after his departure from Google. Singhal worked there for less than a month before he was asked to resign in February of 2017, when the allegations against him became public, according to The Times.
While Singhal was originally reported to have received $45 million from Google, he ultimately received only $15 million because Uber is a competitor of Google, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Singhal denied the harassment allegations after his dismissal from Uber, insisting that he chose to leave Google voluntarily and was not forced out.
“Harassment is unacceptable in any setting. I certainly want everyone to know that I do not condone and have not committed such behavior. In my 20-year career, I’ve never been accused of anything like this before and the decision to leave Google was my own,” he said in a statement released late February of this year.
At Cornell, Singhal conducted research with late Prof. Gerard Salton, co-founder of the computer science department, who was known as the “father of information retrieval,” which is the foundation for modern-day search engines like Google.