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Google agreed to pay $118 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, will pay $118 million to 15,500 current and former female employees to settle a class action lawsuit that has been running for five years.

The plaintiffs in the case have a wide variety of roles within the company, including managers, engineers, sales representatives and at least one kindergarten teacher.

They accused Google of putting overqualified women in positions that were paid less, refusing promotions to women, and paying female employees in general nearly $17,000 less than men on average.

Google is one of many tech giants that have faced labor issues related to salary, workplace culture and hiring practices in recent years. Others that have faced lawsuits include Uber, Twitter, and Microsoft.

In addition to the money, the court ordered Google to use an outside expert to analyze the company’s HR practices and an independent labor economist will be used to examine the tech giant’s wage equity for the next three years.

The deal must be certified by a judge to move forward, with a hearing scheduled for June 21.

The lawsuit was originally filed in September 2017.

Heidi Lamar was a kindergarten teacher at the Google Children's Center in Palo Alto

Holly Pease spent more than 10 years at Google in a variety of roles, including senior business systems integration manager and business data manager

Holly Pease spent more than 10 years at Google in a variety of roles, including senior business systems integration manager and business data manager

Four of the plaintiffs have been publicly named. Lamar (left) was a kindergarten teacher at the Google Children’s Center in Palo Alto, while Holly Pease (right) spent more than 10 years at Google in a variety of roles, including senior manager of business systems integration and manager of corporate data

Kelli Wisuri worked as a Google Brand Evangelist among other sales roles during her 2 and a half years with the company

Kelli Wisuri worked as a Google Brand Evangelist among other sales roles during her 2 and a half years with the company

Kelly Ellis spent four years as a software engineer at Google's Mountain View office from 2010

Kelly Ellis spent four years as a software engineer at Google's Mountain View office from 2010

Kelli Wisuri (left) spent her 2.5 years with the company as a Google Brand Evangelist in addition to other sales roles. Kelly Ellis (right) spent four years as a software engineer at Google’s Mountain View office from 2010

In May 2021, the case was elevated to a class action suit by a judge in San Francisco.

This meant that the plaintiffs could be grouped together rather than forced to bring individual cases against Google.

The plaintiffs accused Google of violating the California Equal Pay Act.

Four of the plaintiffs are named in the lawsuit, Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, Kelli Wisuri and Heidi Lamar. Allen previously worked for Google in California.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that women were paid about $16,794 less than men in similar positions per year.

Ellis spent four years as a software engineer at Google’s Mountain View office, starting in 2010. She held a senior managerial position when she left the company in 2014.

Ellis cited Google’s “sexist culture” as the reason for her departure.

In the lawsuit, Ellis said she was paid as an entry-level engineer when she joined the company, despite having four years of experience.

She claimed that a male colleague who graduated the same year as her and had less experience was paid more.

In 2018, a San Francisco judge imposed restraining order on a former Google contractor who wrote on Twitter that Ellis deserved to be raped for suing the company.

Google is one of many tech giants that have faced labor issues related to salary, workplace culture and hiring practices in recent years

Google is one of many tech giants that have faced labor issues related to salary, workplace culture and hiring practices in recent years

Google is one of many tech giants that have faced labor issues related to salary, workplace culture and hiring practices in recent years

Kelly Ellis (above), a former Google software engineer who was one of three women to sue the company in September over unequal pay, persuaded a San Francisco court on Wednesday to issue a restraining order against Alex Gulakov. grant

Kelly Ellis (above), a former Google software engineer who was one of three women to sue the company in September over unequal pay, persuaded a San Francisco court on Wednesday to issue a restraining order against Alex Gulakov. grant

Kelly Ellis, a former Google software engineer who was one of three women to file a lawsuit against the company in September over unequal pay, persuaded a San Francisco court on Wednesday to issue a restraining order against Alex Gulakov ( up here)

Kelly Ellis, a former Google software engineer who was one of three women to file a lawsuit against the company in September over pay unequal pay, persuaded a San Francisco court on Wednesday to issue a restraining order against Alex Gulakov ( up here)

Kelly Ellis (left), a former Google software engineer who was one of three women to file a lawsuit against the company in September over unequal pay, persuaded a San Francisco court on Wednesday to issue a restraining order against Alex Gulakov. grant (right)

Alex Gulakov tweeted to Ellis on Jan. 2: ‘You deserve to be raped worthless. Roofies of the deep web are easy to get and it’s time to shut your asshole.”

Ellis claimed that Gulakov harassed her during a phone call via Google Hangouts in which he called her a “feminazi.”

Pease spent more than 10 years at Google in a variety of roles, including senior business systems integration manager and business data manager.

Pease was quoted by her lawyers as saying she is “optimistic that the actions Google has agreed to take as part of this settlement will ensure greater equality for women.”

She tasked Google with leading the charge to “ensure inclusion and equality for women in technology.”

Wisuri worked as a Google Brand Evangelist among other sales roles during her 2 and a half years with the company. She resigned in 2015.

Lamar was a kindergarten teacher at the Google Children’s Center in Palo Alto. She was the last person to join the lawsuit, and did so in 2018 after previously filing her own legal action against the company.

Lamar, who has a master’s degree in education, said in documents she was paid $18.51 an hour, while a male colleague without a master’s degree was paid $21 an hour.

She added, like others in the lawsuit, that in her interview she was asked about her previous salary and received that amount.

The practice of asking potential employees about their previous pay was banned in California in 2018.

According to a statement from the plaintiff’s law firm, Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Berinstein: “[The plaintiffs] believe that these programs will ensure that women are paid no less than their male colleagues who do much the same work, and that Google’s challenged leveling practices are fair.”

In February 2021, Google was forced to pay more than $3.8 million to female engineers who claimed they were paid less than male counterparts and for discrimination in hiring Asian women.