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Three female plaintiffs have filed suit against Google and hope to have the lawsuit certified as a class action. They claim that the internet giant routinely pays women substantially less than men for similar work. This violates the California Equal Pay Act and other anti-discrimination laws. Moreover, they claim the company thwarts advancement by women.
The women claim that the discrimination is systematic. According to their complaint, Google sets different compensation levels for male and female employees, keeping women partitioned into levels with lower ceilings. And, throughout the company, fewer women are promoted and they move through the ranks more slowly than men.
Google denies the alleged discrimination, according to the Courthouse News Service. “In relation to this particular lawsuit, we’ll review it in detail, but we disagree with the central allegations,” said a spokesperson.
However, Google has also been dealing with another gender discrimination investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. Earlier this year, a DOL regional director testified discovering “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.”
Google denies that allegation as well, claiming that the company performs internal audits on pay equity and has found no pay gap. The DOL investigation has led to ongoing litigation.
The new lawsuit, however, claims that in 2015, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found six to seven standard deviations between the genders in pay in nearly every job classification. According to the suit, six or seven standard deviations indicates that the chance the pay disparities are random is about one in a million.
The plaintiffs also brought forward their personal experiences with apparent gender inequality at Google. For example, one plaintiff pointed out that she was hired at Level 3, the level for new college graduates, when she had four years of experience. That same year, a male with the same experience was hired at Level 4. Later on, she was denied promotions, despite excellent performance reviews, allegedly because she lacked sufficient tenure. Equivalent male engineers were already being paid more and also were being promoted.
In addition to class certification, the plaintiffs are seeking back wages as authorized by the California Labor Code, along with interest, restitution and other damages.
If you observe circumstances that you may believe indicate discrimination, it’s a good idea to talk to an employment law attorney about your next steps. An experienced lawyer can protect your rights and help you address the issue effectively.