A group of women has filed a class-action lawsuit against Google claiming that the technology giant’s employment practices violate California law. Lawmakers in Sacramento amended the California Equal Pay Act in 2017 to forbid employers from using prior pay to set salaries, and they revised the state labor law again on Jan. 1 to stop companies even asking job applicants about how much they earned in their previous positions. The class-action lawsuit alleges that Google flouts this law and claims that women employed by the Mountain View-based company are paid significantly less than their male colleagues as a result.
A previous version of the litigation was dismissed recently after a judge ruled that the request for class-action status was too broad, but attorneys are confident that this hurdle will now be cleared as they have now narrowed down the field of plaintiffs to four women. One of the plaintiffs, a former teacher at Google’s Palo Alto Children’s Center, says that she was offered a lower salary than a less qualified male colleague after being asked about how much she had earned while teaching in New York.
Google denies the claims and says that their female employees earn virtually as much as their male workers, and the company maintains that it has procedures in place that are specifically designed to eliminate the kind of workplace discrimination alleged in the lawsuit. However, the Department of Labor is currently investigating Google for income discrimination after discovering evidence of widespread pay disparities between men and women working at the company in 2017.
Attorneys with experience in this area may understand how daunting it can be for workers to step forward and take legal action against employers with virtually unlimited resources. However, these companies have reputations that they protect fiercely, and they may be willing to settle discrimination cases quickly to avoid negative publicity and the possibility of severe sanctions.