A class-action lawsuit filed on Thursday on behalf of all women employed by Google in California over the past four years, alleges that the tech giant systematically “segregated” women into employment tiers that paid them less and denied them opportunities for advancement. The complaint included three named plaintiffs who shared stories in which they alleged being repeatedly passed over for promotion in favor of less qualified men.
One of the plaintiffs, Holly Pease, said that she was hired to a senior managing role overseeing about 50 software engineers and product managers in 2005. But she soon realized that the male engineers and a senior manager that she oversaw had been placed in Google’s more highly compensated “technical” career track, even as she, despite having more than 10 years of experience as a network engineer, was relegated to the “non-technical” career track. Pease said she coached non-technical employees in how to transition to technical jobs, and even helped a poorly performing manager working below her to get a promotion to the technical track. But when she tried to transition herself, her “two interviewers, both men, did not ask her any technical questions, and one interviewer did not even bother to take notes.” The suit alleges that Google justified denying her promotion by claiming she “lacked technical ability.”
Another named plaintiff, Kelly Ellis, said she was hired in 2010 in a “Level 3” position for new college graduates. But a few weeks later, Google hired a man who graduated the same year as her into a “Level 4” position that came with “substantially higher salary.” Ellis said she watched as other men less qualified than her were promoted to Level 4 positions and higher, even as the company denied her advancement in spite of her “excellent performance reviews.” The third named plaintiff, Kelli Wisuri, said that she had been relegated to a lower-paying career track in which 50 percent of all employees were women.
Earlier this month, The New York Times published an internal Google spreadsheet that appeared to confirm that women within the same job levels were being paid less than men. Google, which has been previously accused of silencing whistleblowers, had publicly claimed in April to have closed the pay gap across race and gender. Despite that, former employees have continued to say that the company has a problem with race, and the U.S. Department of Labor has accused Google of “extreme” pay discrimination. Adding to the controversy, news of the impending gender discrimination suit came on the heels of a Google employee claiming that women were underrepresented at the internet giant due to inherent gender differences.
And if the rest of the claims listed in the lawsuit are to be believed, these complaints are only the tip of the iceberg.