- A female engineer at Google is suing the company, claiming that she is being paid less than her male peers and that she suffered a retaliatory demotion after complaining about the pay practices (Rowe v. Google LLC, No. 19-cv-08655 Sept. 17, 2019)).
- Ulku Rowe said she has played a crucial role in developing Google Cloud's financial services offering and has received "exceeds expectations" on all of her performance reviews. But she said she was hired at a lower level than similarly situated men, is being paid less than her male counterparts and was not promoted to a role for which she was the most-qualified candidate, court documents showed.
- After complaining to HR, she said, she was moved to a position offering limited development opportunities and then offered three additional options, all "undesirable." Google's investigation into Rowe's complaint was "cursory," court docs said, and "ignor[ed] the plain facts."
Google has been made headlines a lot lately, and not all of the news is favorable. The company has been accused of retaliating against worker organizing efforts, insufficiently supporting LGBTQ workers, and engaging in sexual harassment. It has also been accused of harassing older workers and discriminating against them.
Pay equity is also a big concern these days, and not just at Google, yet many employers aren't taking active steps to remedy compensation inequities. According to a recent survey, just 60% of employers are actively working to achieve pay equity — and 7% of respondents said the issue isn't on their radar at all.
Many employers are, however, working to solve the problem. Nordstrom, for example, announced recently that it has achieved full pay equity for all employees. It looked at base salaries and considered whether employees with similar roles, experience levels and performance were receiving equitable compensation.
HR can review organizational compensation policies and practices, work with supervisors to identify disparities and conduct regular pay audits. Employers may wish to conduct these audits with the assistance of counsel to ensure the information is privileged and not discoverable in the event of a lawsuit.
Because using salary history as a benchmark may simply encourage continued pay gaps, an increasing number of locations are banning questions about prior pay levels. Some of the salary history bans prohibit employers from seeking information about previous wages, while some go even further and forbid employers from considering prior wage history at all, regardless of how the information is obtained.