Qualcomm to pay $19.5 million after claims women are kept under the glass ceiling

The US chip maker is settling after being accused of paying women less and discriminating against them in the workplace.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Qualcomm has agreed to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit following accusations of bias against women.

The deal, which will cost Qualcomm $19.5 million in compensation claims, settles accusations that the tech giant offered fewer chances of promotion to female employees -- and paid them less to boot.

Sanford Heisler represented female Qualcomm employees in a class-action lawsuit. The law firm and Qualcomm's agreement will impact approximately 3,300 employees, primarily in the science, math, technology, and engineering fields (STEM).

In total, the plaintiff's legal teams will keep 30 percent of the settlement, which gives employees $13 million to split between themselves -- a reward of approximately $4,000 each before tax.

According to a press release, Qualcomm will also work towards creating equal job opportunities in STEM and related positions for skilled employees regardless of gender.

The class-action lawsuit emerged following the analysis of Qualcomm's workplace culture, employment, and payroll data. According to the Wall Street Journal, the complainants alleged that female employees of Qualcomm faced "systemic gender discrimination" -- especially if they were working mothers -- through rewarding staff for being available 24/7 and by working late, thereby penalizing those with family commitments.

In addition, the US chip maker's promotion structure required sponsorship by mainly male managers rather than an open application system.

Less than 15 percent of Qualcomm's senior positions are held by women, according to court filings.

David Sanford, chairman of Sanford Heisler and lead counsel for the Plaintiff class commented:

"It is common knowledge that women in STEM and other related fields face persistent discrimination in pay and promotions. This settlement represents a giant leap forward toward leveling the playing field and can serve as a model of best practices for other technology companies.

The fact that the settlement has produced such an excellent result without litigation is a tribute to the good faith Qualcomm and the Plaintiffs exemplified throughout the settlement process."

As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs in the case must gain approval of the deal in the US District Court for the Southern District of California.

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