Gender pay row | Google ends claims it 'systematically' underpaid female staff with $118m settlement

Google ends claims it 'systematically' underpaid female staff with $118m settlement

Google has paid out $118m to settle accusations that it “systematically” underpaid thousands of female employees.

The firm had been facing a class-action lawsuit, launched by four former employees who alleged the tech giant consistently put female workers in lower salary bands compared to male colleagues who were doing the same or similar jobs.

The suit, which was launched back in 2017, also alleged that female employees were promoted less frequently than male workers.

A third-party firm has been appointed to distribute the $118million to the 15,500 women involved in the mass lawsuit.

Google has also vowed to appoint an independent labour economist to review its pay practices, to ensure female workers are not paid less than their male counterparts for doing the same tasks.

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One of the claimants, ex-Google employee Holly Pease, said: “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.”

A Google spokesperson said the firm is “absolutely committed to paying, hiring and levelling all employees fairly and equally,” as they said the firm undertakes “rigorous analyses to ensure fairness” in pay.

“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,” the spokesperson added.

The fight for equal pay

Google is not the only major business to have faced claims of gender pay discrimination recently. LinkedIn recently reached a deal with nearly 700 female staff, worth $1.8million - a huge pay out accompanied by several future legal evaluations.

A routine Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ compliance evaluation found that – from March 1, 2015, through March 1, 2017 – LinkedIn failed to provide equal pay to the affected female workers in positions in its Engineering and Marketing job family groups in San Francisco, and its Engineering and Product job family groups in Sunnyvale.

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According to the Pew Research Center, in 2020 women earned 84% of what men earned, based on analysis of median hourly earnings of both full-time and part-time workers. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 42 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2020.

Janelle Jones, Chief Economist for the US Department of Labor, says: “Unfortunately, the pandemic stalled gains made toward closing the pay gap, and layoffs and a lack of child care have forced many women out of the workforce entirely. In February 2021, women’s labor force participation rate was 55.8% – the same rate as April 1987. And women of color and those working in low-wage occupations have been the most impacted.

“So what can we do achieve pay equity? There’s clearly a lot of work to be done, but it is possible to level the playing field for working women by increasing transparency around wages across the board, disrupting occupational segregation, expanding access to paid leave and child and elder care, and creating more good union jobs.”

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