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Google Fails to Persuade Judge to Block Class Action Status on Gender Pay Discrimination Lawsuit

2021-06-23

Class of nearly 11,000 women won their bid for class-action status against Alphabet Inc.’s Google

A San Francisco state judge certified a class action on May 27, 2021 allowing the four lead plaintiffs to represent 10,800 women claiming that Google pays men working in the same job more than women in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act.  The women claim that they were put into lower career tracks which caused them to receive nearly $17,000 less per year than similarly situated male colleagues.  In further violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, the plaintiffs allege that the company had a policy of asking applicants for prior salary information. 

The plaintiff’s next move is to get the case to trial.  They are seeking more than $600 million in damages from Google.  In defending their position, Google claims that for the past eight years they have conducted analyses to review salaries, bonuses and equity among men and women and make adjustments if they find any differences in proposed pay.

In February 2021, Google entered into an Early Resolution Conciliation Agreement with OFCCP to resolve allegations of pay and hiring discrimination claims.  As part of the agreement, Google agreed to pay more than $3.8 million in back pay and interest to more than 5,500 current employees and job applicants. 

The decision to certify the class claims against Google is similar to a ruling last year which awarded class status in a pay discrimination case against Oracle and may represent a trend in how pay discrimination claims are being pursued. Prior to these decisions, female employees at Twitter and Microsoft had failed to win class status for claims brought in federal court under Title VII. However, the plaintiffs in the Google and Oracle cases benefited from California’s employee-friendly Equal Pay statute which compares jobs that are “substantially similar", rather than the narrower “substantially equal” standard used for federal claims. These recent successes may lead to more pay discrimination claims being pursued in California, as well as other states which have enacted employee-friendly pay laws.

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of Workplace Dynamics LLC and is not being represented as being all-inclusive or complete. It has been abridged from legislation, administrative ruling, agency directives, and other information provided by the government. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel.