Google facing possible class-action suit in gender discrimination row

15 Sep 2017

Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Image: achinthamb/Shutterstock

Google could be facing a major class-action lawsuit representing women employees.

In the wake of the James Damore memo, Google has been threatened with dozens of lawsuits from current and former staff members over claims that the company is paying women less than men across the board.

Now, according to Wired, one such lawsuit has been filed by three women accusing Google of discrimination, both in terms of pay and promotion.

If it goes to court, the class-action lawsuit will grow to cover all of Google’s women employees over the past four years, in what would be a costly penalty for the Silicon Valley giant.

The three women involved in the suit – Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri – claim that Google violated the laws of the state of California by underpaying them and keeping them in lower positions than they deserved.

‘A lot of lip service’

Speaking of her decision to be a part of the lawsuit, Ellis said it grew out of frustration with what she saw as a system unwilling to help.

“There’s been a lot of lip service and, more recently, since the Department of Labor investigation came out, there’s been a denial, which made me realise that this isn’t going to get fixed unless we make them fix it,” she said.

When Ellis arrived at Google with four years’ experience, she was kept in an entry-level job for four years and was denied promotions.

Ellis added: “There’s no official way to appeal that and I didn’t really see women talking about these issues as a systemic thing.”

Last April, Google issued a blogpost denying that it was engaged in discriminatory practices. It said it was committed to paying equal wages and, during its own investigation, found no systemic pay gap between the sexes.

In a statement on this latest lawsuit, Google’s senior manager of corporate communications, Gina Scigliano, denied the claim.

The women’s attorney, however, said that were as many as 90 women that wanted to be plaintiffs in the case, but were prevented from doing so based on clauses in their employment contracts.

Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Image: achinthamb/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic