Google’s work culture has been under scrutiny for a long time. For a while, the company has been highlighted for its toxic work culture on multiple grounds. Employees have complained about facing sexism, racism, and queer bias.
In 2017, three ex-Google employees filed a lawsuit against the tech giant claiming that the company paid its women employees less than their male counterparts for the same job profile, violating California’s Equal Pay Act. Subsequently, a fourth plaintiff was added to this list. The complaint also accused the company of locking women’s careers in lower career tracks, as a result of which they get paid less and earn fewer bonuses compared to the men of the organization. They also cited a wage gap of approximately $17,000.
According to the California Government’s Department of Industrial Relations, “The amended Equal Pay Act prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees wage rates that are less than what it pays employees of the opposite sex, or of another race, or of another ethnicity for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.”
“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 Spokesperson
Finally, the company has agreed to pay $118 million in monetary relief and will also need an independent labor economist to evaluate their hiring and pay practices and also improve them.
The lawsuit, Ellis v. Google LLC covers around 15,500 women that have been employed by Google California in 236 job titles, dating back to September 2013. The terms of this settlement need to be approved by a judge in a hearing that has been scheduled for June 21st.
This is not the first time that this tech giant has faced a lawsuit due to its work culture. In 2021, Google paid $2.5 million in order to settle a complaint that alleged the company of underpaying its female engineers and also ignoring Asian job applications. On the other hand, after receiving several formal complaints, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has been asking employees questions about discrimination and harassment against black female employees.
A Google spokesperson said in a comment to The Verge, “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 is not the only tech company that is facing lawsuits targeted at pay gaps. Companies like Twitter, Oracle, and Microsoft have also faced similar lawsuits with mixed outcomes.