Three former Google employees have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company for allegedly discriminating against women. The complaint claims that Google systematically pays women less than men performing similar jobs, promotes men more often than similarly qualified women, and keeps women in lower-paying and lower-level positions.
The lawsuit was filed on Thursday by Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri on behalf of all women who have worked for the company in California over the last four years, The Guardian reports. The complaint closely follows Google’s refusal to cooperate with the Department of Labor’s requests for historical salary data. It also comes about a week after The New York Times published data from employee-created spreadsheets that alleged gender pay discrimination at the company.
The US Department of Labor accused Google of gender pay discrimination in April. Google denied the allegations, and when the DoL asked for more compensation data as well as employee contact information, the company said that the time and money required to obtain the data was too burdensome.
After the New York Times detailed the employee spreadsheets on Friday, Google spokesperson Gina Scigliano told Gizmodo that its own data shows, when you take “location, tenure, job role, level and performance” into account, that “women are paid 99.7% of what men are paid at Google.” Scigliano described the Times story as “extremely flawed.”
In response to the new class action-lawsuit, Scigliano told Gizmodo that Google, again, disagrees with the allegations pitted against it. “We work really hard to create a great workplace for everyone, and to give everyone the chance to thrive here,” said Scigliano. “In relation to this particular lawsuit, we’ll review it in detail, but we disagree with the central allegations. Job levels and promotions are determined through 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,” said Scigliano. “And we have extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly.”
The company has held strong to its belief that it doesn’t have a widespread gender discrimination issue, but emboldened employees, current and former, are challenging that notion. James Finberg, an attorney who helped file the suit, said that over 90 women, both current and former employees at Google, have reached out to him regarding the lawsuit, according to The Guardian.
“We’ve heard from a lot of women about stereotypes and perceptions that women can’t do coding,” Finberg told the paper. “It’s frustrating and demoralizing.”