- Three former Google employees have sued the company, alleging pay discrimination based on gender, and are seeking to make the case a class action suit, according to Law360.
- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced earlier this year that it had found pay discrimination (based both on gender and race) at the company. And internal spreadsheets showing alleged pay disparities between men and women across the board went public this week via the New York Times (NYT).
- An attorney for the employees told The Verge that both the DOL investigation and the NYT report bode well for the lawsuit. Google denies the claims.
To understand the full picture, observers have to look back to September 2015, when DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) requested compensation information from Google. Such an audit is fairly routine and Google provided some of the requested information, but also pushed back a bit, arguing that the request went too far.
At the beginning of 2017, DOL sued Google over its refusal to hand off all of the requested documents. And by April, DOL announced that it had discovered discriminatory pay practices at Google; women and nonwhites were consistently paid less than white men in comparable jobs, it said. Google released an in-depth statement denying the assertions, saying it wasn't backed by any "supporting data or methodology."
Google eventually got a reprieve. By July, an administrative law judge ruled that Google didn't need to hand over all requested pay information to DOL, agreeing that the requests were excessive. The case returned to DOL's Administrative Review Board and news on Google's pay situation fell quiet for some time — until the NYT data report came out this week.
A similar situation happened with Qualcomm last year, Jay-Anne Casuga reports for Bloomberg BNA. Qualcomm was also undergoing an OFCCP audit when it got hit with a private lawsuit. The legacy tech company eventually settled the private suit for $19.5 million.
Could the same happen to Google? Observers will have to wait and see. But for this to happen to a company as large and well-known as Google may prove that the struggles over diversity and inclusion happening throughout Silicon Valley right now are based in deeply entrenched issues that may require serious consideration to solve.