Google is now engaged in a full-blown class action lawsuit over whether it underpaid women

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Four women who previously worked for Google have won class action status because of their gender equality lawsuit against the search engine company, allowing them to represent some 10,800 women, Bloomberg reports.

The lawsuit alleges that Google pays men more than women for the same job, in violation of the California Equal Pay Act, and that Google pays its female employees nearly $ 17,000 less per year than male counterparts in the same positions. The women filed the charges in 2017, claiming they were put into lower careers than their male colleagues – the so-called “job ladders” that resulted in lower bonuses and salaries. The women have since left Google.

“This is an important day for women at Google and in the technology sector, and we are so proud of our brave clients leading the way,” Kelly Dermody, an attorney representing the women, wrote in an email. Bloomberg. “This injunction shows that it is critical that companies prioritize paying women fairly over spending money to fight them in a lawsuit.”

The plaintiffs weren’t the only ones to accuse Google of systematically underpaying female employees in 2017; the US Department of Labor also sued Google that year for withholding compensation data, and concluded three months later that Google was responsible for “systemic compensation differentials relative to women virtually everywhere in the workforce.” Google agreed to pay $ 2.5 million to employees and job applicants earlier this year for alleged discrimination in pay and hiring.

A spokesperson for Google said in an email to The Verge that the company “believes strongly in the fairness” of its policies and practices. The spokesperson did not directly address the class action status of the lawsuit, but said the company has conducted a “rigorous analysis of its reward equity” annually for the past eight years. “If we discover differences in the proposed pay, including between men and women, we will make upward adjustments to remove them before the new compensation takes effect,” the spokesperson added. the company, for a total of $ 4.4 million. Google had more than 135,000 employees in December and generated $ 17 billion in profits in the quarter alone.

Dermody, the lawyer, told me Bloomberg she expected a trial to begin sometime next year.