Google plans to pay $118 million to settle a gender discrimination class action lawsuit involving approximately 15,500 women (via Bloomberg† As noted in the settlement press release, Google must also have an independent labor economist evaluate its hiring practices and investigate pay equality.
The lawsuit arose in 2017 after three women filed a complaint accusing the company of underpayment of female employees in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act, citing a pay gap of approximately $17,000. The complaint also alleges that Google locks women into lower career paths, leading to lower pay and lower bonuses compared to their male counterparts. The plaintiffs won class-action status last year.
Google’s treatment of employees has been the target of criticism on more than one occasion. Last year, Google agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company underpaid female engineers and overlooked Asian job applicants. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is also investigating the company over complaints of potential harassment and discrimination against black female employees.
“As a woman who has spent her entire career in the tech industry, I am optimistic that the actions Google has agreed to take in this settlement will bring greater equality to women,” said Holly Pease, a prosecutor in the case. a statement. “Google has led the tech industry since its inception. They also have the opportunity to lead the way to ensure inclusion and equality for women in technology.”
The terms of the settlement are yet to be approved by a judge at a hearing set to take place on June 21. “While we strongly believe in the fairness of our policies and practices, after nearly five years of litigation, both sides agreed that a resolution of the matter, without any acknowledgment or findings, was in the best interests of all, and we are very happy to come to this agreement,” Google said in a statement to The edge† The company added that it is “absolutely committed to paying, hiring and equating all employees fairly and evenly,” and that it is making “upward adjustments” if it finds a pay gap between male and female employees.
In the past decade, a number of similar lawsuits against pay gaps have surfaced, with class-action gender discrimination cases against Microsoft and Twitter failing to gain traction. Oracle is also facing a class-action lawsuit for alleged unequal pay, but according to Bloomberg’s Law, the group of women the company is suing is likely to lose class action status after a judge said a class of 3,000 employees and 125 job classifications would be “unmanageable to go to trial.” Other tech companies, such as Apple and Riot Games, have also faced allegations of wage inequality.
Update June 12, 12:39 PM ET: Updated to add a statement from Google.