Google Accused of Gender-Based Pay Bias in New Lawsuit

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Alphabet Inc.’s (NYSE: GOOGL) Google faces a new lawsuit accusing it of gender-based pay discrimination, another black eye for the Silicon Valley company.

A lawyer representing three female former Google employees is seeking class-action status for the claim, filed Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court.

The plaintiffs — Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelly Wasuri — sued in San Francisco County Superior Court, claiming Google violates California’s Equal Pay Act and other state labor laws by systematically paying them lower wages for doing the same jobs as their male counterparts.

If the suit gets class-action status, women who worked at Google in California over the four years before the lawsuit’s filing would be able to join the suit.

The lawsuit seeks wages due plus interest, liquidated damages and a judgment that prevents the internet company from engaging in the alleged discriminatory practices in the future.

The suit against Google is a reminder of how the tech industry has had difficulty dealing with gender imbalance in terms of pay and hiring. Companies such as Google and Facebook have acknowledged that few women hold upper-management positions at their companies. Ride-sharing company Uber, where a culture of abusive behavior contributed to the downfall of founder Travis Kalanick, has been accused by some female engineers of a pattern of sexual harassment.

The plaintiffs claim in the latest Google lawsuit that they were steered onto career tracks with lower compensation and advancement opportunities, despite having skills similar to male colleagues placed in higher positions. The plaintiffs also allege women working at Google are promoted less frequently and at a slower rate than similarly qualified male counterparts.

“Google has discriminated and continues to discriminate against its female employees by systematically paying them lower compensation than Google pays to male employees performing substantially similar work under similar working conditions,” the three plaintiffs say.

The suit follows a federal labor probe that made a preliminary finding of pay bias among the 21,000 employees at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Google is required to submit to federal audits in regard to pay equity because it is a federal contractor.

Google disputes those findings and says its analysis shows no gender pay gap.

In addition, Google might face another class-action lawsuit that has nothing to do with gender bias. James Damore, the former engineer fired for comments about Google’s culture, believes the company discriminated against him for his political beliefs. He has filed a complaint to the National Labor Review Board and is weighing legal action.