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What does a Google lawsuit mean for women in the workplace?

Three women have filed a discrimination lawsuit against Google. The lawsuit alleges that Google paid these women less than male employees, and that they did not have the same opportunities for advancement as men within the company.

Is a class action lawsuit forthcoming?

The plaintiffs are looking to build a class action lawsuit which, if granted, would cover all women who have worked for Google within the last four years. If class action status is granted, the case could have ramifications beyond just Google, as numerous women have alleged that gender bias exists in companies throughout the tech industry.

Repeated claims of gender bias at Google

This is not the first time Alphabet Inc., which owns Google, has found itself in the crosshairs of claims of gender bias. A 2015-2017 Department of Labor investigation found a systemic pay discrepancy between male and female employees at Google in almost all job classifications.

Google cooperated with the DOL investigation, which began after a routine audit. In 2017, however, Google refused to turn over data on salary histories for 25,000 employees going back to their initial hiring date. In January, the DOL sued to prevent the federal government from doing business with Google until the data is released.

It is important to note that while a gender wage gap may be indicative of gender discrimination, it does not, by itself, mean that a discrimination lawsuit will be successful.

What are the implications if a class action moves forward?

Lawsuits alleging gender discrimination are nothing new, and have become almost commonplace in Silicon Valley in recent years. Yet this particular lawsuit, filed against one of the most recognizable companies in the world, has the potential to reverberate across the tech industry. When a few individuals take action against a company of this size and notoriety, others who feel that they were similarly wronged, by Google or other companies, may be encouraged to step forward and assert their own legal claims.

If the class action lawsuit is allowed to proceed, Google could face substantial liability in the form of back pay and other damages.

Lawsuits such as the one filed against Google should act as a reminder for companies to reevaluate their own policies so that they can seek to avoid similar legal action.


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