Google’s troubles seem to continue as the class-action lawsuit against the internet giant has been amended. The class-action gender-pay lawsuit has been amended to include an old complaint, as well as a new complainant. The new complaint faults Google for inquiring about new hires’ prior salaries – California has now banned this practice of inquiring about previous salaries. It also redefines the class of affected workers, which caused the previous suit to be dismissed.
In addition, the amended suit adds a fourth complainant, a preschool teacher with a master’s degree to bring the total complainants to four women, all alleging that Google underpaid them in comparison to their male counterparts.
The suit has been refiled nearly a month after being dismissed due to defining the class of the affected workers too broadly; now the suit aims to represent four women specifically: an early childhood educator, an engineer, a manager, and a sales associate.
The newly added fourth former female worker, Heidi Lamar, was employed as a teacher at Google’s Children Center in Palo Alto from around July 2013 to August 2017, claims that of the 150 teachers employed by Google during her tenure, just three were men. Two of the men hired were paid more than all but one of the women hired, she alleges.
The lawsuit states, “Google’s under-leveling of women not only resulted in Google paying them lower base salaries than if they had been properly leveled, but also resulted in Google paying them smaller bonuses and fewer stock units and options than if Google had placed them in the proper level.”
Leading lawyer for the case, James Finberg of San Francisco law firm Altshuler Berzon, contends that the company used previously acquired salary rates to set starting pay for employees, thus resulting in men receiving higher starting salaries and better career tracks. Furthermore, the company also sets job classification levels relative to prior pay, thereby resulting in newly hired women consistently making less than men over time, according to the suit.
The newly filed amendment came promptly after the new California law was effective, which explicitly prohibits employers from asking job applicants about prior salaries. This measure was in fact designed explicitly to narrow the pay gap between men and women; ironically the very offense Google is being accused of perpetuating. Under no circumstance is the employer allowed to use a previous salary to set a future salary, which they are also accused of doing to women in particular.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the lawsuit comes on the heels of a three-year federal Labor Department investigation into pay practices at Google, which is a subsidiary of Mountain View, Calif.-based Alphabet Inc. The Labor Department sued last January to bar Google from doing business with the federal government until it released thousands of documents related to an audit that preliminarily found widespread pay gaps between men and women.
Google has disputed the government’s findings and stands behind its own analysis which shows no gender pay gap. In a statement Wednesday, Google said it also disagrees with the lawsuit’s allegations and Google spokeswoman, Gina Scigliano stated, “Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no bias in these decisions.”