Four female former employees of Alphabet's Google are trying to persuade a state court to let them represent more than 10,000 peers in a gender-based pay disparity suit against the company, setting the stage for the next big battle over class-action status.
Google paid women approximately $16,794 (Dh61,633) less per year than “the similarly-situated man”, the women said in a submission on Tuesday, citing an analysis by David Neumark, an economist at the University of California, Irvine.
“Google paid women less base salary, smaller bonuses, and less stock than men in the same job code and location,” they said.
The women claim the pay differences breach California’s Equal Pay Act. According to the lawsuit, Google also violated the state’s Unfair Competition Law with a policy from 2011 to 2017 of asking job candidates for prior salaries, perpetuating lower pay and seniority for women. They want a San Francisco Superior Court judge to allow them to sue on behalf of all women who have worked at Google in California since September 14, 2013.
A class certification hearing is set for December 2.
Granting the women class status would raise the stakes for Google. Based on Mr Neumark’s analysis, a class action could seek more than $600 million in damages.
A Google spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment on the petition. The company has previously argued that any pay differentials are based on “bona fide” factors other than sex such as “a senior system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity and quality of production”.
The women sued Google in 2017. The company sought to dismiss the case but a judge denied the request in 2018.
James Finberg, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, is also representing three female Oracle employees who in May won class certification for a gender-discrimination lawsuit over unequal pay. On the other hand, female engineers were denied class-action status in similar cases filed in 2015 against Twitter and Microsoft.