When discrimination occurs in a systematic way and is directed toward a protected group within a company, it could result in a class action suit against that company. In the case of Google, female workers allege that the company has methodically discriminated against them, and they point to alleged pay disparities to make their point. Beyond the compensation issue, the women claim they were denied opportunities for growth within the company.
Google’s Payment Structure
According to the lawsuit, Google has a compensation policy based on an employee’s position on one of several ladders. These ladders are arranged by job classification and skills, and compensation for a particular ladder increases within the ladder’s parameters as the employee advances.
Claims of Inequity
The plaintiffs assert that when hired, women in all areas of the company were placed on lower rungs of ladders than males who had equivalent experience. In some cases, the women say that they were placed on different ladders altogether, despite being responsible for essentially the same work and exhibiting similar skill sets. The results were threefold:
- Women received significantly lower compensation than men based on their placement on a particular ladder
- Men who were placed on parallel ladders for similar work were compensated at a higher rate than women with equivalent skills
- The ladders made it impossible for females to ever catch up to the earnings of their male counterparts, with overall lesser earning potential over a period of time
State and Federal Law
California state law eclipses the requirements of the federal Equal Pay Act with regard to equal pay requirements. According to these laws, employers must pay equivalent wages to employees who perform markedly similar work, regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity. In California, ensuring this equity has been a goal pursued with aggression.
What Does the Law Provide in Such Cases?
If the plaintiffs prevail in this case, they may be entitled to be awarded a combination of damages:
- The difference between their salary and that of males who performed similar work
- Liquidated damages
- Interest on lost wages
- Costs associated with attorney’s fees and litigation in court.
Although Google prevailed in the original case, women have revised the complaint this year in order to narrow it to include only females working as engineers, managers, and caretakers in the employee nursery.
Google retorts that one in five of its engineers is female, and one in four managers and leaders is female. They contend that they have broad systems in place in order to ensure equity across all groups in terms of pay. How will the courts decide? Time will tell.
Whether it is gender discrimination or another type of workplace bias that you are fighting, the experienced legal team at HKM can help. Contact us in Los Angeles for a personal consultation today.