Earlier this year, Google was sued over alleged gender discrimination. In a case that added to the prevailing idea that Silicon Valley had an issue with sexism, Google had to prove their interactions with both male and female workers were equitable. And they have, at least legally.
A California judge said the class action claim against Google alleging gender inequity was not good enough to go forward. The suit, brought initially by three former female employees, argued that Google “engaged in systemic and pervasive pay and promotion discrimination.”
Women Claim ‘ Earning Less Wages Than Men’
Details of the suit included the women saying they were “paid less than men,” “assigned to lower paying jobs” and not promoted as often. These allegations led the three women to seek class-action status on behalf of all women who have worked at Google in the past four years. The judge didn’t say the entire case was without merit but did rule that they could not bring the case to court as a class action suit. The presiding official said the class was too broad and did not “distinguish between female employees who may have valid claims against Google based upon its alleged conduct from those who do not…”
That doesn’t mean the case is done. The plaintiffs may choose to go it alone, and they may choose to amend their original filing to seek class action again. According to CNN, their attorney, Jim Finberg, said he intends to clarify: “…that Google violates the California Equal Pay Act throughout California and throughout the class period by paying women less than men for substantially equal work in nearly every job classification.”
Google Compensation Disparities
Google says it has no gender pay gap, and that a previous analysis completed by the Department of Labor was incorrect. That analysis noted “compensation disparities” according to the plaintiffs in this case.
So, will the news that Google won this round turn out to be good or bad consumer PR for the company? On one side, an argument can be made that Google is trying to take a stand against being tarred and feathered as part of an overall assumption of discrimination in the tech sector. While some companies and more than a few leaders in that industry have been embroiled in PR troubles due to gender-issue miscues, Google can argue they are not guilty just by association.
On the contrary, some will say that Google is not fairly considering the core of the allegations being made against the company. Instead, the argument goes, they are using legal maneuvering to escape accountability.
Both of these positions are gaining traction in the consumer marketplace. Which one grabs the most support will largely depend on how each side manages the narrative going forward, as well as what future courts decide.