The suit was filed on Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court, and the lawyer representing the former employees is seeking class action status. If granted, women employed by Google in California at any time during the four years prior to the lawsuit’s filing would be able to join the suit, which is seeking wages due plus interest, liquidated damages and a judgment that prevents the company from engaging in the alleged discriminatory practices in the future.
Plaintiffs Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri say they left Google due to gender pay and career advancement discrimination. Ellis was employed by Google as a software engineer; Pease worked in various engineering management roles; Wisuri worked in sales.
The plaintiffs allege they were placed in career tracks with lower compensation and advancement opportunities, despite having skillsets similar to those of male colleagues placed in higher tiers. The plaintiffs also claim women working at Google are promoted less often and at a slower rate than their similarly qualified male co-workers.
“The net result of this systemic discrimination is that Google pays women less than men for comparable work,” the suit states. Lawyers add that the company either knew or should have known about the gender pay disparity, yet failed to equalize employees’ compensation packages and career trajectories.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano said the company will review the suit but disagrees “with the central allegations.”
She added, “Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no gender bias in these decisions.”
Google is under investigation by the U.S. Labor Department over gender pay discrimination. Earlier this summer, the company fired male engineer James Damore, whose internal memo arguing against the tech giant’s efforts for a more inclusive and diverse workplace went viral.