Google hit with class-action gender pay lawsuit

Saturday, 16 Sep, 2017

A class-action lawsuit filed by three former Google employees alleges that the search giant pays women less than men for similar work, and segregates them into front-end (women) or back-end (men) jobs with different pay ceilings.

"It is time to stop ignoring these issues in tech", said Kelly Ellis, a former software engineer at Google and one of the women who filed the suit. The former employees claim the company consistently pays men more for doing similar work as women in similar conditions. Around September 2015, OFCCP, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, completed a statistical regression analysis of the company's compensations data for about 21,000 employees at Google's Mountain View office. They said that such actions by Google violate California law, including the California Equal Pay Act.

"The company is pressing individual managers to increase diversity and is using race or gender to decide which workers are promoted and which teams job candidates are placed on". The legal action is now seeking class-action status to represent all women discriminated against by the company over the past four years. The complaint closely follows Google's refusal to cooperate with the Department of Labour's requests for historical salary data. Within weeks, a male engineer with comparable experience was hired to a higher-level position.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Ellis said the gender pay gap is a deeply ingrained problem at Google, and while "lip service" has been paid by companies that claim to be committed to combating pay disparities, the problem "hasn't really changed". He said he was inspired to focus on Google after learning of the company's fight with the Labor Department.

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Pease, who had worked for the company for several years, was kept on the lower "non-technical" ladder which holds less opportunity for promotions and less compensation than the "technical" ladder despite her multiple leadership positions and experience at managing those on the "technical ladder".

The plaintiffs who used to work at Google stated, according to the Telegraph, that the company pays women in California less than their male counterparts and assigns female workers jobs that are less likely to lead to promotions. Scigliano added that Google has "extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly".

If I were to hedge my bets, the three women who brought this to the world's attention, Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri, are going to come out on the winning end of this one.