Google subject to equal pay lawsuit in US

Google office

Technology organisation Google is subject to a lawsuit that alleges, in the US state of California, female employees are discriminated against under the organisation’s approach to pay and opportunities for promotion.

Three former female employees have filed a class action lawsuit accusing the US-based business of paying women less than men for comparable work.

The lawsuit, Ellis v Google, which was filed on 14 September 2017 at the Superior Court of the State of California, alleges that Google systematically pays female employees lower compensation than it does to male employees with similar job experience and who perform similar work in similar conditions.

The lawsuit also claims Google places female employees in job ladders and levels with fewer advancement opportunities and lower compensation ceilings than male employees. For example, one plaintiff was placed on a level three software engineering job ladder, which is typically used for entry-level graduates, while a male employee who graduated in the same year and had similar qualifications and experience was hired to the level four software engineering job ladder, which receives higher salary and bonus opportunities.

The claimants allege that Google knew, or should have known, that female employees were paid less than male counterparts because the organisation completes annual internal pay equity analysis and maintains employment records, which detail wage rates and job classifications.

They claim that this is a violation off the California Equal Pay Act and are therefore seeking payment of unpaid wages, a 10% interest on the due wages, and liquidated damages.

As well as seeking relief for the affected plaintiffs, Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri, the lawsuit will apply to all women employed by Google in California at any time in the past four years, through to the trial date.

Gina Scigliano, spokesperson at Google, said: “We work really hard to create a great workplace for everyone, and to give everyone the chance to thrive here. In relation to this particular lawsuit, we’ll review it in detail, but we disagree with the central allegations. Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no gender bias in these decisions. And we have extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly. But on all these topics, if we ever see individual discrepancies or problems, we work to fix them, because Google has always sought to be a great employer, for every one of our employees.”

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James M Finberg, attorney at Altshuler Berzon, one of the law firms representing the claimants, said: “Google’s motto is to do no harm, but it has harmed its [female] employees by not treating them as well as its male employees. It is time for that to stop.”

Kelly M Dermody, attorney at Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein, which is also representing the plaintiffs, added: “While Google has been an industry-leading tech innovator, its treatment of female employees has not entered the 21st century. This case seeks to ensure fairness for women at Google.”