Over 10,000 women are suing Google over gender pay disparity

The plaintiffs are seeking $600 million in damages from the tech giant.

Nguyen Huy Kham / reuters

Four women who worked at Google have won class-action status to proceed with their gender pay disparity lawsuit, reports Bloomberg. The latest ruling in the protracted legal battle means the suit can now apply to 10,800 women who held various positions at the tech giant since 2013. Those affected represent a broad cross-section of vocations including engineers, program managers, salespeople and at least one preschool teacher.

The women, who are seeking more than $600 million in damages, allege Google violated the California Equal Pay Act by paying them less than their male counterparts, promoting them slowly and less frequently. Female workers at Google earn almost $16,800 less than the "similarly situated man," according to a previous filing in the suit, which cited an analysis by UC Irvine economist David Neumark.

The suit also claims that Google's use of previous salary information was a key factor in its perpetuation of wage inequality. The tech giant discontinued the practice in 2017, but has failed to address its wage gaps, according to the suit.

Google has said that it denies the lawsuit's central allegations. The original suit brought by Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri in 2017 was tossed out by a judge before being submitted the following year with an additional plaintiff, Heidi Lamar. Ellis took to Twitter today to herald the latest decision as "huge."

The ruling adds to the scrutiny of Google's treatment of women. In February, the company reached a settlement with the Department of Labor over systemic compensation and hiring discrimination at its California and Washington offices. Google agreed to pay over $2.5 million to more than 5,500 current employees and job applicants who had faced pay disparities. In contrast to similar tech pay disputes, Google paid $9.7 million to narrow pay gaps for 10,677 employees in 2019 after acknowledging that it was compensating men less than women working in similar roles.