Over 60 former and current Google employees are reportedly considering bringing a class action lawsuit against the tech giant, over alleged workplace discrimination. The possible lawsuit will reportedly build on the US Department of Labor's probe into allegations of Google systematically underpaying its female staff. The possible legal action also reportedly involves allegations of workplace sexism.
News of the possible lawsuit comes in the aftermath of a 10-page anti-diversity manifesto authored by Google employee James Damore, which left Silicon Valley reeling. Damore, who has since been fired, has also said that he was considering suing Google. Damore's firing has sparked a furious debate both within and outside Google, with the alt-right reportedly outraged and even calling for a boycott of Google.
Meanwhile, Damore's memo appears to have fuelled the internal strife among Google's female employees. James Finberg, the civil rights attorney working on the potential lawsuit on behalf of Google's female employees, told the Guardian that female staff at the tech giant have earned less than men, despite being equally qualified.
Despite Google's fervent denials of pay gap allegations, Finberg says that around 30 of the 60 women he interviewed indicated that there were distinct inequalities and prejudices that are detrimental to women working at the tech giant. According to Finberg, women have admitted to earning less than male counterparts, despite comparable positions and similar qualifications, making lower in terms of salaries, bonuses and stock options.
Several women reportedly claimed that they earned around $40,000 (£30,833) less than their male counterparts. One woman also allegedly said that she made two-thirds of her male colleagues' salary. Around half of the 60 women considering suing Google are current employees, Finberg said, adding that over a dozen women admitted that discrimination at work played a role in their leaving the firm.
"It's demoralizing," one former senior female Googler, who recently left the firm told the Guardian, requesting anonymity over fears of retribution. "There's something subconsciously that happens where you do start to question the value that you're adding to the company." She also said that she had repeatedly found out about male colleagues, working in similar positions, earning considerably more than her, recounting one incident where a junior male employee who joined her team, had a higher salary than her.
"I felt like I wasn't playing the game in the 'boys' club' environment," said another woman who worked for two years before recently leaving Google. "I was watching male coworkers progress at a faster rate than myself. It was really disturbing." She also said that she was regularly faced with sexist remarks, such as comments about her looks.
"Sixty people is a really small sample size. There are always going to be differences in salary based on location, role and performance, but the process is blind to gender," a Google spokesperson said.
"Google is not alone in Silicon Valley," Finberg said. "The goal of the case is to not only get Google to change its practices, but to encourage other Silicon Valley companies to change their pay practices as well."