In May, a San Francisco state judge granted class action status for a lawsuit against Google alleging unequal pay between male and female employees. The lawsuit was first filed in 2017. Google tried to get the case dismissed but was denied in 2018.
Four lead plaintiffs will represent 10,800 women in the class action lawsuit. In total, the women are seeking more than $600 million in damages.
Violating California’s Equal Pay Act
As part of the lawsuit, the women allege that Google breached California’s Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act makes it illegal for California employers to pay employees of one sex less than employees of the other sex. All employees who perform “substantially similar work” must be paid equally.
The plaintiffs claim that Google’s female employees were paid about $16,794 less than their male counterparts each year when comparing the compensation of employees working at the same location and under the same job code. Woman were allegedly paid lower base salaries, smaller bonuses, and given less stock options.
Violating California’s Unfair Competition Law
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Google violated California’s Unfair Competition Law. Between 2011 – 2017, Google illegally asked job candidates to provide prior salary data during the application process. This inquiry was alleged to result in lower pay and lesser job titles for the women eventually hired.
What Does Google Think About the Allegations?
Google maintains that it supports a fair work environment that pays men and women equally. Each year for the past eight years, Google has systematically evaluated and proactively raised compensation for those who fall below benchmarks corresponding to their role and responsibilities.
Through this initiative, Google reported that they increased compensation for 2,352 employees in 2020, totaling more than $4.4 million. They say that these actions promote fair pay across all demographic groups.
Heading to Trial
Now that the lawsuit has gained class action status, the next step will be resolving the dispute in trial. The trial is anticipated to start in 2022.
If the women win the lawsuit against Google, it could be a huge step forward for female employees not just in the tech sector, but across multiple industries. Women seeking similar class action lawsuits in the past have been denied, including female employees at Walmart Inc., Twitter Inc., and Microsoft Corp. A win for Google’s female employees could set a new precedent for similar lawsuits in the future.