Accusations of sexism at Google have ratcheted higher in recent days with the filing of a gender pay discrimination lawsuit. The suit was filed on behalf of three former Google employees. However, the attorney involved would like to achieve class-action status.
And, based on preliminary findings, they may succeed with their ultimate goal. A federal department of labor investigation found “systemic pay discrimination” at Google. According to the report, women earned less than men in nearly every job classification.
The news isn’t good for Google. The massive tech juggernaut is in the process of trying to rebuild its brand reputation after a growing opinion in the consumer marketplace that Google discriminates.
Google came out against the report, proverbial guns blazing. First, the company disputed the findings of the report, arguing their analysis “shows no gender pay gap.”
That opinion is frankly disputed by attorney James Finberg, who represents the trio of former Google employees – Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri – all of whom left the company after realizing their career paths would, they say, offer them less compensation than men who were on similar tracks.
Finberg believes his clients have a strong case. So strong, in fact, that he wants thousands of other Google employees to join the suit, hoping to win back lost wages and other compensation.
Of the three initial complainants, Ellis offered the following statement to the Associated Press: “I have come forward to correct a pervasive problem of gender bias at Google… It’s time to stop ignoring these issues in tech…”
Ellis claims she has watched male colleagues pass her by, as she was denied at least one promotion, despite what she categorized as excellent performance reviews.
As expected, Google sees things differently. In a statement published by the Associated Press, Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano said the company will review the lawsuit, however… “We disagree with the central allegations…”
Scigliano added, “Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no gender bias in these decisions…”
At this point, that may not matter. Whether or not the suit goes class action, there are still a growing number of consumers who are unhappy with Google, believing the company to be just one of many tech industry companies that treat women as less than men.
These consumers will likely be swayed more by headlines than lawsuits and court decisions. Google needs to win the case, but they need to win the hearts and minds of these suspicious customers even more.