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Google admits company sacked 48 employees over sexual misconduct claims

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Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, has revealed that the company fired 48 people over sexual harassment allegations during the last two years, with 13 of those dismissed being senior members of staff.

In an email sent to employees by Pichai and VP of people operations, Eileen Naughton, it said the internet search giant was taking an “increasingly hard line” on sexual misconduct, with the CEO saying in the letter that none of those who lost their jobs received a severance package when they were let go.

“We are dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace,” the email read. “We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action.

“In recent years, we’ve made a number of changes, including taking an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority. In the last two years, 48 people have been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. None of these individuals received an exit package.”

The memo was in response to a report in the New York Times, that said Google had concealed a handful of company executive pay-outs, including Android software creator Andy Rubin, which suggested Rubin was given a $90 million (£70.2 million) exit package, despite facing misconduct allegations.

A spokesman for Rubin told the paper he denied any misconduct and he had not been made aware of the claims when he left the company in 2014.

Pichai said there were newer tools at Google that employees can use to report sexual harassment and misconduct, reports in which employees can also make claims anonymously.

“In 2015, we launched Respect@ and our annual Internal Investigations Report to provide transparency about these types of investigations at Google. Because we know that reporting harassment can be traumatic, we provide confidential channels to share any inappropriate behaviour you experience or see,” the email said. 

“We support and respect those who have spoken out. You can find many ways to do this at go/saysomething. You can make a report anonymously if you wish.”

The email also said the firm has enforced a policy requiring managers at vice president and senior vice president level to disclose relationships with co-workers, “regardless of reporting line or presence of conflict”.

Earlier this month, Google’s CEO admitted details of censored search app for China and said that it found that it could “serve well over 99 per cent of queries.”

On Thursday, Google’s Silicon Valley rival Facebook revealed that over eight million pieces of content violating the site’s rules on child nudity and exploitation had been removed from the site in the last three months.

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