Alphabet’s Google Inc. has agreed to pay $118 million to settle a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit that challenged the company’s pay and leveling processes, law firms representing the women said in a statement published on Saturday.
The settlement will release Google from claims that it “paid women in Covered Positions less than it paid men for substantially similar work, that Google assigned women to lower levels than it assigned men, and that Google failed to pay all wages due to employees upon their separation of employment.”
The settlement covers approximately 15,500 female employees working in 236 job titles (“covered positions”) in California since September 14, 2013.
In addition to monetary relief, the Settlement provides that an independent third-party expert will further analyze Google’s leveling-at-hire practices. An independent labor economist will also review the company’s pay equity studies. The post-settlement work will be supervised by an external Settlement Monitor over the next three years.
Plaintiffs believe these programs will help ensure that women are not paid less than their male counterparts who perform substantially similar work and that Google’s challenged leveling practices are equitable.
The class-action lawsuit, Ellis v. Google LLC, No. CGC-17-561299 was filed in San Francisco Superior Court in 2017 by four female former Google employees, Kelly Ellis, Holly Please, Kelli Wisuri, and Heidi Lamar. These Plaintiffs were represented by law firms, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP and Altshuler Berzon LLP.
The Plaintiffs in the lawsuit accused Google of underpaying female workers in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act, citing a wage gap of about $17,000. The complaint also alleges that the women were denied promotions or transfers to other teams compared to their male counterparts, which diminished their career advancements.
“As a woman who’s spent her entire career in the tech industry, I’m optimistic that the actions Google has agreed to take as part of this settlement will ensure more equity for women,” said Plaintiff Holly Pease who worked for Google for more than a decade before suing the company.
“Google, since its founding, has led the tech industry. They also have an opportunity to lead the charge to ensure inclusion and equity for women in tech.”
Plaintiffs’ co-counsel Kelly Dermody stated, “Plaintiffs believe this settlement advances gender equity at Google and will be precedent-setting for the industry.”
“Google has long been a technology leader. We are delighted that in this Settlement Agreement and Order Google is also affirming its commitment to be a leader in ensuring pay equity and equal employment opportunity for all of their employees,” said Plaintiffs’ co-counsel, Jim Finberg.
The terms of the settlement will be reviewed by a judge in a preliminary hearing set for June 21, 2022. If the Court preliminarily approves the Settlement, a third-party administrator will issue notice to the Class Members of the Settlement. If the court later grants final settlement approval, the third-party administrator will allocate settlement amounts based on an objective formula to each qualifying class member.
“While we strongly believe in the equity of our policies and practices, after nearly five years of litigation, both sides agreed that resolution of the matter, without any admission or findings, was in the best interest of everyone, and we’re very pleased to reach this agreement,” Google spokesman Chris Pappas said about the settlement.
The spokesman also added that the company is “absolutely committed to paying, hiring and leveling all employees fairly and equally” when it comes to salary, recruiting, and advancement and it makes “upward adjustments” if it finds there is a pay discrepancy between male and female employees.