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Google Sued for 'Systemic Discrimination' Against Female Employees

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

It seems like just yesterday Google was parting ways with an engineer who felt the need to explain to colleagues, in excruciatingly sophomoric detail, why the "distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and ... these differences may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership."

But that was over a month ago, just four months after the U.S. Department of Labor accused the company of an "extreme" gender pay gap. All of which is a precursor to yet another lawsuit filed yesterday in San Francisco, claiming Google "discriminated and continues to discriminate against its female employees by paying female employees less than male employees with similar skills, experience, and duties."

Front and Back

Ex-Googlers Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri, a software engineer, senior manager, sales communication specialist respectively, claim the company paid them less than male colleagues, assigning the women to lower compensation levels and job ladders than "similarly qualified men performing substantially similar work." Their lawsuit was filed as a class action complaint, seeking to represent all women at Google.

Ellis, in particular, says she was "occupationally-segregated" into a frontend software engineering role because of a "false and gendered perception at Google that backend software engineering is more technically rigorous, and therefore more prestigious." Ellis's lawsuit claims "Google pays backend engineers more ... and fasttracks them for promotion," and that "almost all back-end software engineers were men." Ellis resigned after four years at the company "because of the sexist culture."

Back and Forth

Google, for its part, denied the allegations. Spokesperson Gina Scigliano told Forbes:

"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 gender bias in these decisions. And we have extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly. But on all these topics, if we ever see individual discrepancies or problems, we work to fix them, because Google has always sought to be a great employer, for every one of our employees."

The lawsuit claims Google violated California labor laws, and is asking for unpaid wages, damages, and prejudgment interest.

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