Google set to pay $118 million to settle gender discrimination suit

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About 15,500 female employees learned Friday that Google plans to settle a years-long gender discrimination lawsuit for $118 million, according to attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

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The deal must still be approved by a judge, however, and a preliminary approval hearing is slated for June 21, Bloomberg reported.

The law firms of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP and Altshuler Berzon LLP issued a joint news release Friday announcing the settlement, noting that an independent expert will analyze Google’s hiring practices and an independent labor economist will review the company’s pay equity studies going forward.

“As a woman who’s spent her entire career in the tech industry, I’m optimistic that the actions Google has agreed to take as part of this settlement will ensure more equity for women,” Holly Pease, one of the plaintiffs, said in the statement.

According to Bloomberg, the class-action suit involved women holding 236 different job titles.

“While we strongly believe in the equity of our policies and practices, after nearly five years of litigation, both sides agreed that resolution of the matter, without any admission or findings, was in the best interest of everyone, and we’re very pleased to reach this agreement,” Google said in a statement to The Verge.

The company added that it remains “absolutely committed to paying, hiring and leveling all employees fairly and equally,” and that it makes “upward adjustments” if pay disparities are detected between male and female employees.

The lawsuit grew from a complaint filed in 2017 by three women who accused the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary of underpaying female workers in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act, citing a wage gap of around $17,000, the technology news outlet reported.

David Neumark, an economist at the University of California at Irvine, performed the analysis that the plaintiffs cited in reaching their figure, Bloomberg reported.

In addition, the complaint alleged that Google “locks women into lower career tracks, leading to less pay and lower bonuses when compared to their male counterparts,” The Verge reported.

The lawsuit was granted class-action status in 2021.

“Google, since its founding, has led the tech industry. They also have an opportunity to lead the charge to ensure inclusion and equity for women in tech,” Pease added.