Three former employees filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Google accusing the company of discriminating against female employees by paying them lower wages than men and denying promotions. The suit was filed on behalf of all women employed by Google within the last four years.
“Google has discriminated and continues to discriminate against female employees by systematically paying them lower compensation than Google pays to male employees performing substantially similar work under similar working conditions,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit is just the latest in a string of gender-discrimination accusations against Silicon Valley companies. Earlier this year, Oracle was hit with a lawsuit for paying white men more than other employees, and accusations made by Susan Fowler against Uber sent a shockwave through the tech industry, ultimately leading to the departure of beleaguered Uber founder Travis Kalanick.
It also comes just months after a judge ruled in Google’s favor, telling the tech giant it wouldn’t need to send the Department of Labor additional audit data it requested. Previously, Department of Labor regional director Janette Wipper testified, “We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.”
Last week New York Times compiled salary and bonus information from 1,200 Google employees and discovered females are paid less than men “at most job levels.” And last month, three former female employees attacked the company’s overwhelmingly white culture.
Google says it’s reviewing the lawsuit, but disagrees with its main points.
“Job levels and promotions are determined thorough rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no gender bias in these decisions,” Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano told Bloomberg in a statement. “And we have extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly.”
The three former employees who filed the suit—Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri—claim Google “channeled and segregated” women into lower ladders or job levels, and “knew or should have known” this was happening.
“The lawsuit alleges a continuing policy, pattern, and practice on the part of Google of sex discrimination against female employees, with respect to performance evaluations, pay, promotions, and other terms and conditions of employment. The complaint notes that the net result of this systemic discrimination is that Google pays women less than men for comparable work,” according to a website created by the women’s attorneys.
The women described in the filing how they were each treated unfairly by Google. Ellis, who was hired in 2010, was allegedly put in a position typically assigned to new college hires, despite her four years of experience in software engineering. Google then hired a man with similar experience into a higher-level position with “substantially higher salaries and opportunities for bonuses, raises, and equity.”
Pease, despite allegedly receiving “excellent” reviews and working for years in engineering and management, was allegedly placed in Google’s “non-technical” employment ladder, with lower compensation and opportunities for upward mobility. Similarly, Wisuri, who graduated from the University of California and had two years of experience under her belt, was put in the lowest level available for permanent full-time employees.
The filing asserts Google is in violation of the California Equal Pay Act and asks to recoup lost wages and for Google to fix its practices.
“I think those chances are very high because the statistical evidence that the Department of Labor collected and The New York Times collected indicate that there are statistically significant disparities adverse to women across the board,” James Finberg, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, told the Verge.