Three women who used to work at Google have filed suit against their former employer. Their complaint states that the company systematically discriminates against female employees by failing to pay them the same rate that is given to men doing the same jobs.
The plaintiffs include Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri, and they make the argument that their lawsuit should become a class action on behalf of other female current and former employees. Ellis says that despite having four years of professional experience as a software engineer, Google hired her as a Level 3 employee in 2010. That level was considered entry level, and was designed for recent college graduates. A few weeks later, a male engineer with similar experience was hired at Level 4. This garnered him a larger salary and put him in line for extra bonuses and raises. Ellis further claims that other male employees were brought in at Level 4 even though they had less or comparable experience when compared with hers.
Ellis goes on to claim that Google hired her as a front-end engineer even though her experience was as a back-end engineer. In Google’s hierarchy, it is the back-end engineers who are the most esteemed and higher paid. Ellis says that she and other female engineers were prevented from entering similar positions. The two other plaintiffs share similar accusations.
A spokesperson for Google says that the company disputes “the central allegations” of the case, pointing out that a worker’s level and their promotion track follow a rigorous process that is meant to preclude the danger of gender bias.
However, a study by the Labor Department which recently concluded an audit of the company’s pay practices disputes this. The audit points to “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire work force.” Google has not been charged with wrongdoing relating to these allegations.
This latest case is yet another reminder of how critical it is for companies to review their hiring, promotion and wage practices with a business attorney. Running afoul of employment laws is always bad for the bottom line.