Google has been dealt a major setback, as a judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit over alleged gender bias and pay discrimination.
Four plaintiffs have sued Google, accusing the company of discriminating against women, paying them less than their male counterparts. Google was seeking to prevent the lawsuit from gaining class-action status, but the judge ruled the four plaintiffs could represent the 10,800 women working for Google.
“This is a significant day for women at Google and in the technology sector, and we are so proud of our brave clients for leading the way,” Kelly Dermody, a lawyer representing the women, said in an email to Bloomberg. “This order shows that it is critical that companies prioritize paying women equitably over spending money fighting them in litigation.”
According to the court filing, the plaintiffs claim Google paid women roughly $16,794 per year less than men in similar roles. The case is seeking more than $600 million in damages.
The ruling is a big blow to Google, capping off a year of HR disasters. The company fired Dr. Timnit Gebru, and later Margaret Mitchell, calling into question academic integrity and its track record of how it treats Black women. The fallout has resulted in engineers quitting in protest and the company being removed as a sponsor for a prominent AI ethics conference.