On May 27, 2021, a California superior court judge issued an order certifying a class of nearly 11,000 former female Google workers who allege the tech giant engaged in systemic and pervasive pay and promotion discrimination against its female employees in California, at times paying women thousands of dollars less than their male counterparts. Filed by Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel Altshuler Berzon under California’s newly amended equal pay law, the Google Gender Discrimination class action is breaking new ground in tech in particular as it seeks to address two pernicious practices – the under-leveling of women relative to comparable men at hire, and using candidates’ past salary information to determine their pay rate, a process thought to perpetuate inequity as women have historically been paid significantly less on average than men.
Members of the class include women who worked at Google in California over the past seven years and who were primarily employed as software engineers.
“This is a significant day for women at Google and in the technology sector, and we are so proud of our brave clients for leading the way,” noted Lieff Cabraser partner Kelly M. Dermody, who represents the plaintiffs in the case. “This order shows that it is critical that companies prioritize paying women equitably over spending money fighting them in litigation.”
Plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification on July 21, 2020. You can read public versions of the brief and two related expert reports. The motion asks that the court certify the case to proceed as a class action on behalf of female Google employees who worked in California in the Covered Positions from September 14, 2013 to the present. Briefing on the motion will be completed on November 10, and the Court will hold a hearing on December 2. We hope for a decision in the first quarter of 2021.
On March 27, 2018, Judge Mary E. Wiss of the Superior Court of California issued an order finding plaintiffs’ classwide allegations sufficient to survive Google’s attempts to have them stricken from the class action complaint. The tech giant had attempted to get the court to remove from the litigation two of the six employment positions listed in the complaint, without success.
On January 3, 2018, plaintiffs filed their First Amended Class Action Complaint in California state court. Read a copy of the First Amended Complaint.
The lawsuit alleges that Google has paid and continues to pay women less than men who are doing substantially similar or substantially equal work in certain covered positions at Google offices in California since September 14, 2013.
The covered positions include all levels within: Software Engineer; Senior Software Engineer; Staff Software Engineer; Senior Staff Software Engineer; Senior Manager for Business Systems Integration; Software Engineer Manager; Senior Software Engineer Manager; Network Engineer; Systems Administrator; Field Technician; Operations Engineer; Business Systems Integrator; Site Reliability Systems Engineer; Site Reliability Software Engineer; Project Manager; Technical Writer; Product Manager; Product Marketing Manager; User Experience (“UX”) Researcher; User Experience (“UX”) Engineer; Program Manager; Technical Program Manager; Enterprise Sales Operations Coordinator; Enterprise Sales Operations Associate; Sales Brand Evangelist (aka Sales Solution Senior Associate); Sales Representative; Account Representative; Account Manager; Preschool Teacher; and Infant/Toddler Teacher (collectively, “Covered Positions”).
The lawsuit also alleges that Google has violated and continues to violate the Unfair and Unlawful Business Practices Act through its violations of the California Equal Pay Act and its violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, in the following ways: (a) assigning women to lower “Levels” (i.e. salary bands) than it assigns men; (b) assigning women to jobs that do not compensate as highly as those populated largely by men; (c) promoting women more slowly and at lower rates than it promotes men; and (d) paying women less than it pays men performing similar work.
Earlier in the Case
On September 14, 2017, a federal gender discrimination case was filed in California state court in San Francisco against Google. The class action, Ellis v. Google Inc., was brought by three former female Google professionals on behalf of themselves and similarly situated current and former female employees. Read a copy of the complaint.
Google is a corporation that develops and sells Internet-related services and products. Google employs over 21,000 employees at its Mountain View office and has employees at six other office locations throughout California, including in San Francisco. In 2016, Google generated $89.5 billion dollars in net revenue and $27.89 billion dollars in operating income.