Google facing potential class action over gender-based pay discrimination

A review of Google's pay structures found that it pays women less than men in almost every job classification.


(Image: Shutterstock/Lloyd Carr)

Google could be facing a new lawsuit accusing it of gender-based pay discrimination.

A lawyer representing three female former Google employees is seeking class action status, it was announced on Thursday.

The lawsuit is on behalf of three women -- Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri -- who all quit after being put on career tracks that they claim would've paid them less than their male counterparts.

The suit aims to represent thousands of Google employees in California, and seeks lost wages and a slice of Google's profits.

Earlier this year, a US federal labour investigation made preliminary findings of systemic pay discrimination among the 21,000 employees at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

The initial stages of the review found that women earned less than men in nearly every job classification.

Google disputed the findings, and said its analysis shows no gender pay gap.

According to the search giant, its pay calculations are "blind to gender", and it conducts checks that remittance is without any statistically significant differences between both genders' pay.

"The fact is that our annual analysis is extremely scientific and robust. It relies on the same confidence interval that is used in medical testing (>95 percent)," said Eileen Naughton, Google's vice president for people operations, in April.

"Our analysis gives us confidence that there is no gender pay gap at Google. In fact, we recently expanded the analysis to cover race in the US."

Last month, Google found itself in hot water over the firing of an employee who wrote an internal memo arguing against diversity efforts in its workplace.

The memo argued that women could not handle the demands of leadership roles at Google.

"I'm simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership," the memo said.

Google VP of Engineering Ari Balogh, who the employee reported to, said that while feeling free to express viewpoints is important, it should not come at the expense of pushing "harmful assumptions".

"Questioning our assumptions and sharing different perspectives is an important part of our culture, and we want to continue fostering an environment where it's safe to engage in challenging conversations in a thoughtful way," Balogh said.

"But in the process of doing that, we cannot allow stereotyping and harmful assumptions to play any part. One of the aspects of the post that troubled me deeply was the bias inherent in suggesting that most women, or men, feel or act a certain way.

"That is stereotyping, and it is harmful."

The memo said Google is biased against people with politically conservative views, and questioned its diversity training.

With AAP