David Drummond, the chief legal officer at Google parent Alphabet, has stepped down from the company in the wake of a board-level review of its handling of sexual harassment claims against a number of senior executives.
Mr Drummond, an 18-year veteran of Google, said in an internal note on Friday that he was retiring from the company at the end of this month. After co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped back from their involvement in Alphabet last month, he wrote: “I believe that it’s also the right time for me to make way for the next generation of leaders.”
Mr Drummond had been one of the executives at the centre of a controversy over the company’s handling of sexual harassment claims, which provoked a global walkout by employees in late 2018 as well as legal action against the board.
He was allowed to continue in his role as Alphabet’s top lawyer despite the revelation that he had been involved in a relationship and had a child with a former member of the company’s legal staff. He began shedding much of his personal stock in the company late last year, selling more than $200m worth of shares and reducing his stake below $100m.
Other former Google executives caught up in the scandal include Andy Rubin, the former head of the Android mobile software business, and Amit Singhal, former head of search, both of whom left the company with large pay-offs after internal complaints of sexual harassment, which were never publicly disclosed.
Google shareholders sued in California state court a year ago, accusing the company’s board of covering up the harassment allegations. Along with current and former Alphabet directors, the lawsuit also targeted Mr Drummond over the role he played in a $90m payout to Mr Rubin.
The lawsuit triggered an internal review by a special committee of Google’s board into how the harassment cases had been handled. The committee has not disclosed the findings of its investigation, or even whether a full report on the matter has been put to the company’s board.
But the committee at the end of last year moved ahead with a recommendation that the company and shareholders try to reach a settlement of the lawsuit — a sign that it had reached the end of the investigation.
The lawsuit called for monetary damages as well as better oversight of sexual harassment cases and an end to the use of non-disclosure agreements to restrict what former employees can say about such situations.
Mr Drummond was involved with Google’s founders in their earliest days, acting as their external legal adviser in setting up the company before joining full-time in 2002. When Alphabet was created in 2015, he moved on from Google to become chief legal officer at the holding company, ending his direct involvement in operations.