Google is Facing a Class Action Lawsuit Over Pay Discrimination Allegations

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Google is Facing a Class Action Lawsuit Over Pay Discrimination Allegations
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A gender-based pay discrimination lawsuit filed by four female employees against Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. in 2017 is finally moving forward, affecting approximately 11,000 former and current female Google employees. The lawsuit alleges that Google paid women on average $1,894 less per year in base salary, bonus, and stock than their male counterparts working in similar positions annually in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act.

The lawsuit alleges that Google assigns women to lower levels of responsibility and salary range due to a flaw in their hiring procedure.

Some employers include questions regarding an applicant’s former salary in their job application process. For many people, including many women who might not have been paid fairly at their last position, this can significantly influence the range of pay an employee is eligible to receive. The problem with requesting past salary information is that another employee who was hired out of a job that made more money will continue making more money, whereas another employee might find themself stuck in a lower range of pay, even though these two employees are working the same job.

Google is not the only employer to ask questions regarding past salary during the hiring process, but it is an increasingly frowned upon practice and is in fact illegal in many states including California. The California Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from engaging in discriminatory pay practices, including how salary offers are calculated.

More than half of the female employees covered in this lawsuit are or were software engineers.

From September 2013 through December 2018, Google employed over 42,700 women now covered by the lawsuit, and approximately 54% of these women are or were software engineers. Google organizes each position by job code; this is how the salaries of male coworkers with the same job code were compared with salaries of their female counterparts, highlighting a discrepancy in the average pay that the plaintiffs believe Google should have already been aware of and taken action to correct.

According to the lawsuit, “...data analyses establish that Google regularly assigned
women to lower levels than similarly situated men because of their prior pay. The data confirms that this underlevelling of women is not attributable to differences in education or prior experience.”

This is not the first gender-based pay disparity lawsuit Google has faced.

In 2017 the U.S. Department of Labor sued Google for withholding compensation data. When the data was finally surrendered, a three-month investigation revealed systemic discrimination regarding how women were paid across the workforce, including a wide variety of job codes. To settle these claims, Google agreed to pay $2.5 million to employees and job applicants who allegedly suffered from this discrimination.

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit are seeking a variety of damages on behalf of themselves and the other estimated 11,000 class members. Damages sought include the reimbursement of unpaid wages to the class members, restitution of money made by Google as a result of their unfair business practices, and injunctive relief requiring the company to commit to fair pay practices regarding their female employees now and into the future.

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