“As a woman who’s spent her entire career in the tech industry, I’m optimistic that the actions Google has agreed to take as part of this settlement will ensure more equity for women,” said Holly Pease, one of the plaintiffs, in a press statement. “Google, since its founding, has led the tech industry. They also have an opportunity to lead the charge to ensure inclusion and equity for women in tech.”
The agreement followed a Sept. 2017 lawsuit filed on behalf of four former Google employees: Pease, Kelly Ellis, Kelli Wisuri, and Heidi Lamar. The plaintiffs alleged that the Big Tech company did not recognize their education or training and showed favor in hiring to men with less experience. Pease, for example, alleged that she was denied opportunities to be promoted to a role as a “technical” employee after working at Google for 11 years and having more than 10 years of experience as a network engineer.
Others reported discrepancies in pay. Lamar claimed in the initial filing that she was only paid $18.51 an hour for her role as a preschool teacher at Google’s Children Center while a male counterpart with less education was paid $21.00 an hour for the same role.
The company will have its hiring practices scrutinized by external organizations as part of the settlement. A third-party expert will review Google’s hiring practices, while an independent labor economist will review Google’s pay equity practices, according to the legal ruling.
“While we strongly believe in the equity of our policies and practices, after nearly five years of litigation, both sides agreed that resolution of the matter, without any admission or findings, was in the best interest of everyone, and we’re very pleased to reach this agreement,” a Google spokesperson told the Washington Examiner. “We are absolutely committed to paying, hiring, and leveling all employees fairly and equally, and for the past nine years, we have run a rigorous pay equity analysis to make sure salaries, bonuses, and equity awards are fair.”
The settlement terms still need to be approved by a judge. A hearing is set for June 21.
Google previously agreed to pay $2.5 million in February 2021 to settle claims that it underpaid female engineers and overlooked Asian job applicants. The company is also under investigation by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing over complaints of harassment of black female employees.