10,800 women suing Google over gender pay gap win class action status



Alphabet Inc.’s Google failed to convince a judge to block class action status over a gender pay gap lawsuit filed on behalf of nearly 11,000 women.

A San Francisco state judge certified the class action lawsuit Thursday, allowing the four main plaintiffs to represent 10,800 women over allegations that Google is paying men more to do the same work. A previously disclosed analysis showed the case sought more than $ 600 million in damages. The women allege violations of California’s equal pay law, one of the toughest measures of its kind in the country.

“This is an important day for women at Google and in the tech industry, and we are very proud of our courageous clients for leading the way,” said Kelly Dermody, a lawyer representing women, in a report. -mail. “This ordinance shows that it is essential for companies to prioritize paying women fairly rather than spending money fighting them in litigation.”

Dermody said the next step is to bring the case to trial, which she says could start in 2022.

Read more: The Covid-19 pandemic deepens the gender pay gap in the United States, with women losing out

Google said that over the past eight years it has conducted analysis to ensure that salaries, bonuses and stock awards are fair. “If we see any differences in the proposed compensation, including between men and women, we make upward adjustments to remove them before the new compensation goes into effect,” the company said in a statement. sent by email.

Last year, 2,352 employees were better paid “across almost every demographic,” according to Google.

The ruling follows a similar ruling last year in a case against Oracle Corp. Women at other tech companies who have turned to the courts to transform their wages and salaries in the workplace have struggled to gain ground, as do their female counterparts in more traditional industries. , from retail to finance. The U.S. Supreme Court set the bar high in its 2011 ruling that barred 1.5 million women workers at Walmart Inc. from pursuing their discrimination claims as a group.

The women engineers of Twitter Inc. and Microsoft Corp. did not obtain class action status for their gender bias cases and these decisions were upheld on appeal.

The women leading the Google complaint said in a July lawsuit that the company paid women about $ 16,794 less per year than “the man in a similar situation,” citing an analysis by economist David Neumark at the University of California at Irvine. “Google paid women less base salary, smaller bonuses and less stock than men in the same job code and location,” they said.

Read more: 4,100 women take on Oracle over wage inequality in class action lawsuit

Google is also accused in the lawsuit of breaking the state’s unfair competition law with a policy from 2011 to 2017 of asking job applicants for past wages, perpetuating lower wages and seniority. women. The lawsuit was filed in 2017. The company sought to dismiss the case but a judge dismissed the request in 2018.

Google has argued that defending itself against Equal Pay Act claims in a class action case requires “unlimited individualized testimony” for different types of work performed by more than 33,000 employees.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Andrew YS Cheng disagreed. For work to be “substantially similar” under the Equal Pay Act, Cheng wrote, “jobs do not have to be the same or require exactly the same tasks.”

In February, Google agreed to pay nearly $ 2.6 million to settle US Department of Labor allegations that the tech company underpaid thousands of female workers in software engineering jobs and discriminated against women. and Asian job seekers.

The case is Ellis v. Google Inc., CGC-17-561299, California Superior Court, San Francisco County.

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