Alphabet's new Chief Executive Sundar Pichai on Friday gained the opportunity to reshape the leadership of Google's parent with the exit of Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, whose outsized strategic role was overshadowed by employee concerns about his personal relationship with a subordinate.
Drummond, also senior vice president of corporate development, had been with Google since its start in 1998. He incorporated the company as outside counsel, winning the business of co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. He later spent nearly 18 years as the company's top lawyer and one of its few black executives.
Scrutiny centered on Drummond as the board last year investigated the company's handling of sexual misconduct complaints throughout its workforce, and he became a lightning rod for criticism about what some employees viewed as tolerance for poor behavior.
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He remains a defendant, alongside other executives, in a lawsuit shareholders brought last year accusing Alphabet leadership of covering up sexual harassment scandals within the company including by awarding lavish exit packages to two top executives found responsible for misconduct.
"While we are glad to see Mr. Drummond is no longer with Alphabet, we still intend to hold him accountable for fiduciary breaches through our litigation," said Julie Goldsmith Reiser, attorney for the lead plaintiffs.
The board completed an internal investigation last month, but has not publicized findings. The litigation is in mediation, and the board's findings and resulting actions may become known as it goes on.
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