Google's parent company Alphabet will pay $118 million to over 15,000 current and former female employees in order to settle an impending class action lawsuit.
In the recent gender discrimination case, the plaintiffs account for a broad range of roles within the company, including managers, engineers and sales representatives, among others, who accused Google of denying promotions to women, putting overqualified women in roles that paid less and generally paying women less than men.
The lawsuit was originally filed in September 2017. In May 2021, the case was elevated to a class action suit by a judge in San Francisco. This meant that the plaintiffs could be grouped together rather than being forced to take individual cases against Google.
In addition to the money, the court ordered Google to use a third-party expert to analyse the company's HR practices and an independent labour economist will be used to examine the tech giant's pay equity for the next three years.
The deal must be certified by a judge to move forward, a hearing is scheduled for June 21, the plaintiff's law firm, Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Berinstein said.
Google has been involved in multiple lawsuits over issues such as privacy, advertising, intellectual property and various Google services such as Google Books and YouTube. Only last week, Google agreed to pay $100 million to Illinois residents to settle another class-action lawsuit over one of its facial recognition features in Google Photos. The complaint alleges Google’s face grouping tool, which automatically identifies your face in photos and videos uploaded to Photos, violates Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
Notably, the tech giants have also experienced labour problems relating to pay, workplace culture and hiring practices in recent years. Others technology majors who have faced gender discrimination lawsuits include Uber, Twitter and Microsoft.
“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,” Holly Pease, one of the plaintiffs of the gender discrimination case, said in the statement.
The statement from Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Berinstein added, '(The 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 levelling practices are equitable.'
In February 2021, Google paid $3.8 million to female engineers who argued that they had been paid less than male counterparts and for discrimination against hiring Asian women.