Google sued for gender bias against women by 3 ex-employees, lawsuit may gain class action status

As per the lawsuit, Google limits its female employees' opportunities to get promoted in the company

Three female employees have filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the firm of discriminating against them by underpaying them and depriving them of opportunities to get promoted. The plaintiffs seek to turn their complaint into a class action lawsuit including all women who have worked at Google during the last four years.

"Google has discriminated and continues to discriminate against its female employees by systematically paying them lower compensation than Google pays to male employees performing substantially similar work under similar working conditions," the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit has been filed by three former female employees of Google — Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri. As per the plaintiffs, they were placed into lower career tracks, intentionally, than their male co-workers and received lower salaries and bonuses because of it. They said that such actions by Google violate California law, including the California Equal Pay Act. They are now asking for lost wages and damages, and for Google to be compelled to correct these allegedly discriminatory practices.

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However, the tech giant has denied all the allegations. "In relation to this particular lawsuit, we'll review it in detail, but we disagree with the central allegations," Gina Scigliano, senior manager of corporate communications at Google, writes in an emailed statement. Scigliano added that Google has "extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly."

The US Department of Labor is currently investigating the hiring practices of the company. Previously, this year, the Department had testified in court that it found "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce."

According to Ellis, she was hired and placed at Level 3 in Google, which is generally the level where fresh college graduates are hired into, whereas she had an experience of working in the industry for four years. Ellis also claimed that weeks after her appointment, a male colleague with the similar amount of experience was hired into Level 4 by the company. Ellis was put into less-prestigious front-end development team, although she had experience in backend development, the department in Google where the company almost exclusively hires male employees, alleged Ellis.

Wisuri's story is quite similar to that of Ellis. Wisuri was hired into Level 2 in Google, whereas men with similar qualifications and experiences got to enter Level 3 in the company.

Pease, on the other hand, was hired by Google with 10 years of prior experience as a network engineer and she oversaw a team of "technical" staff. However, she, herself was denied to be called a "technical" employee in the company, which limited her remuneration, claims the lawsuit. Also when she wanted to make a transition to the "technical" classification, the company refused it. Moreover, when she rejoined after a medical leave, she was removed from the engineering department altogether.

All these three employees left the company over the past year.

James Finberg, the attorney, who is representing these plaintiffs, believes that this lawsuit will be able to gain the class action status and will, indeed, cover all the female employees that have worked with Google and faced such disparities. "I think those chances are very high because the statistical evidence that the Department of Labor collected and The New York Times collected indicate that there are statistically significant disparities adverse to women across the board," said Finberg.

The New York Times had published salary data from Google, earlier this month, which showed inequality in salaries and bonuses across all pay grades in the firm. The data was compiled by nearly 1,200 Google employees.