- Qualcomm, a large telecommunications equipment company, agreed to pay $19.5 million to settle a gender discrimination class action lawsuit that claimed women were paid less and had less opportunity for promotion compared to their male coworkers.
- The women in the lawsuit alleged that Qualcomm's promotion policy depended on a sponsorship model, where a manager must sponsor the employee they would like to promote. But Qualcomm's leadership is overwhelmingly male, meaning women — who hold less than 15% of leadership positions in the company — felt they had little chance to be chosen, Computerworld reported.
- The settlement was reached before the lawsuit was officially filed, as Qualcomm and the employees opted to mediate in January. The class complaint still requires filing, however, as well as a preliminary approval of the agreement from a judge in a federal court in California, Sanford Heisler, the legal firm representing the class action, told Computerworld.
Employees in the class action, largely employees in the STEM fields, claimed that they did not receive equal pay for equal work, and that it was worse for women who had caregiving responsibilities. Additionally, women could not self-nominate for the promotion program, meaning many of them had to lobby their male managers in an attempt to be promoted.
"While we have strong defenses to the claims, we elected to focus on continuing to make meaningful enhancements to our internal programs and processes that drive equity and a diverse and inclusive workforce, which are values that we share and embrace," Christine Trimble, the company's vice president of public affairs, said in a statement shared with Computerworld.
This hefty lawsuit points out the stark issues women face in the workplace, particularly women in STEM fields. Earlier this year, President Obama spoke at the United State of Women Summit, and said more work needed to be done to improve the status of women in the workplace. One initiative that has begun to take root nationally: pay transparency. But many experts agree that pay transparency is only the first step.