Over 60 female Google employees are reportedly considering bringing a class-action lawsuit against the tech company over claims of sexism and wage discrimination, according to The Guardian.
Google is currently embroiled in controversy over claims of gender discrimination, after an “anti-diversity” letter went viral over the weekend. The author of the letter, James Damore, was subsequently terminated by Google, which led some to accuse Google of left-wing bias, and intolerance of differing ideas.
According to The Guardian, the women's lawyer, civil rights attorney James Finberg, said that the women "contend they have earned less than men at Google despite equal qualifications and comparable positions." Some said they struggled to work up the ladder at Google, Finberg said, due to a “culture that is hostile to women."
According to some of the 60 women, half of whom no longer work at Google, Finberg heard claims that some women make as low as $40,000 less for doing the same job. One woman reported that she makes two-thirds less than her male counterparts.
Google has denied these accusations, and according to a Google spokesperson, 60 women isn't enough to warrant a good case in a company that employs tens of thousands of people.
“Sixty people is a really small sample size,” the spokesperson told The Guardian. “There are always going to be differences in salary based on location, role and performance, but the process is blind to gender.”
But Finberg said that testimonies from half of the 60 women he's interviewed so far indicate a clear gender bias that is causing disparities and prejudices harmful to women.
“They are concerned that women are channeled to levels and positions that pay less than men with similar education and experience,” Finberg said, adding that despite similar qualifications, the women still were paid less in salaries, bonuses, and stock options.
The Guardian reported that one female senior manager who recently left the tech company said that men at the same level as her were making "tens of thousands of dollars more than her." She added that a male employee had joined her team with a higher salary than her, despite her being his superior in the company.
“It’s demoralizing,” said the worker, who requested The Guardian keep her identity secret for fear of retribution. “There’s something subconsciously that happens where you do start to question the value that you’re adding to the company.”
The woman said that the discrimination she faced, and trying to help other women facing the same discrimination became too emotionally taxing for her.
“After a while, it just became exhausting,” she said. “It takes emotional energy that builds up over time.”
Another anonymous former female employee claimed that she would continuously get sexist comments about her looks, and was denied a promotion despite her achievements and high work load. She said that she found it "disturbing" as she watched her male colleagues advance at a faster rate.
“I felt like I wasn’t playing the game in the ‘boys’ club’ environment,” she told the Guardian.
The claim from these 60 women falls in line with an April report from the Department of Labor, which said that it had found “systemic compensation disparities” at Google.
The Labor Department has yet to release any analysis or data from its study, but Wired reported the existence of 6 to 7 standard deviations between pay for men and women in nearly every job classification. The Department of Labor considers just two standard deviations statistically significant, according to The Guardian.
Finberg said this discrimination doesn't stop at Google, and that Silicone Valley is rife with pay disparities.
“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.”