A group of women who sued Google for pay discrimination are advancing a class-action lawsuit in California that could affect more than 8,000 current and former employees, the plaintiffs’ lawyer said.
Jim Finberg, a civil rights attorney for the women behind the high-profile gender pay gap litigation, told the Guardian on Thursday that the Silicon Valley corporation has confirmed that the proposed class action would cover roughly 8,300 women who have worked for Google in California.
The case is moving forward with a San Francisco hearing on Friday, one day after the New York Times published a major investigation saying Google paid a $90m severance package to an executive while concealing details of a sexual misconduct allegation against him.
The class-action complaint could add to the pressure on the corporation, which has faced growing scrutiny over the last year surrounding public allegations of gender and racial discrimination and sexual misconduct.
The women affected by the pay discrimination case worked in a variety of positions since September of 2013, including product management, product sales, technical operations, software engineering, research and technical writing.
“If the class is certified in this case and we prevail, it will change the way that Google does business, and because Google is a market leader, hopefully it will improve gender equality in Silicon Valley and the tech industry,” Finberg said in an interview.
The class action followed a major inquiry by the US Department of Labor (DoL), which said last year that its audit of Google revealed “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce”. The allegation came after Google, a federal contractor subject to equal opportunity laws, refused to hand over certain records to the DoL. A judge ultimately ordered Google to disclose certain salary documents to labor investigators.
The civil complaint, filed a year ago, alleged that Google was paying women less than men doing similar work while also denying promotions and career opportunities to qualified women who were “segregated” into lower-paying jobs. The first version of the suit covered all women employed by the company in California over four years, but the company fought the suit and data requests of the plaintiffs, and a judge dismissed the initial case as overly broad.
The amended complaint now moving forward covers a more narrow group, though it could still have widespread implications given that the corporation employs 23,000 people at its Mountain View headquarters. The named plaintiffs in the lawsuit include a former engineer, manager and sales worker. Heidi Lamar, who taught employees’ children at the company’s childcare center, also joined the case and shared her story with the Guardian earlier this year.