Class-Action Suit Against Google – Gender Pay Discrimination?

Three former female Google employees are suing the tech giant claiming that the company pays women less than men in similar roles, while also purposely putting women in career paths with lower pay potential.

The official complaint was filed last Thursday in the San Francisco Superior Court by Plaintiffs Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri, all of which worked at Google for at least three years and said have left the company due to gender discrimination.

“This lawsuit is an effort to pull down the barriers and shatter the stereotypes,” said James Finberg, the plaintiff’s attorney. “Unconscious bias plays a large role in perpetuating gender disparities and compensation.”

The Labor Department is also investigating systemic pay discrimination at the tech company.

“Earlier this summer, the company fired male engineer James Damore, whose internal memo arguing against the tech giant’s efforts for a more inclusive and diverse workplace went viral,” writes The Huffington Post.

The memo is being provided as evidence in the new suit. “That memo was filled with stereotypical views about women and whether women have the same abilities,” said Finberg.

“The net result of this systemic discrimination is that Google pays women less than men for comparable work,” according to the suit.

Plaintiffs claim that the company knew about the gender pay disparity and has done nothing to rectify the issue.

“Attorney James Finberg of Altshuler Berzon who, with attorney Kelly M. Dermody of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, is representing the women, says Google long has been aware of the problem and has done nothing to fix it,” writes USA Today. “The Labor Department’s investigation prompted Finberg to ask female Google employees to come forward if they had experienced pay discrimination. He and the other lawyers heard from 90 current and former employees.”

“That’s a strong outpouring of dissatisfaction,” said Finberg. “The stories of the women were consistent with what the Labor Department found, that women are paid less in every category.”

“The suit cites data from a 2015 review of Google’s employment practices by the U.S. Department of Labor’s contract compliance unit that’s the subject of a separate federal administrative complaint against the company. The agency performed a statistical regression analysis of the pay for roughly 21,000 employees at the company’s Mountain View office for 2015. The analysis “found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,” according to the suit,” writes Bloomberg.

Then in July, Google was ordered to hand over employee files to the Labor Department for further investigation.

“Women should have the same opportunities as men, and receive equal pay for substantially similar work,” said Wisuri.

“My hopes for the Google suit: to force not only Google, but other companies to change their practices and compensate EVERYONE fairly,” tweeted Ellis.

Google has already disagreed with the gender discrimination 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,” said Gina Scigliano, Google spokeswoman in an e-mailed statement. “And we have extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly.”

However, the New York Times published a spreadsheet made by former Google employee Erica Baker in 2015 that shows women are paid less than men at most job levels.

Google said the spreadsheet was not accurate but has still struggled to diversify its employees. Only 31% of Google’s workforce are women and 80% of all tech roles are held by men. The majority of the company’s employees are white Caucasian males.

Author’s note: Google is just one of the many Silicon Valley companies with this problem. It’s likely other Google employees will come forward for the case-action suit. California’s tech companies like Google may be booming, but this will probably be a costly battle.

Editor’s note: This sounds a bit out of whack to me, Google is a forward-leaning business interested in attracting a diverse workforce. They hire people from all over the world. Currently in the U.S. on 24% of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workers are female.

I have no reason to doubt that Google has strict processes for enduring that hiring and promotions are fair. Google is a liberal-oriented California company that aggressively seeks the best of the best employees male or female, foreign and domestic. Just a wild thought, but could it be that Google is pulling men from a much larger pool of men world wide, than its pool of women who are mostly American?

But of course, this does not matter. The lawsuits will continue, because perception is reality.

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