Google has agreed to pay $118 million to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit involving about 15,500 women.
According to a press release attached to the settlement, Google will hire a labour economist to provide an assessment of its hiring practices and equity studies.
The lawsuit was first filed in 2017 after three women filed a lawsuit alleging underpaid wages for female employees in violation of California’s equal pay act, with a pay gap of nearly of $17,000.
According to the Equal Pay Act, as amended starting January 1, 2019, employers may not explain any pay disparity between employees of opposite sexes, or employees of different race or ethnicity, based on an employee’s former wage.
According to the California Government’s Department of Industrial Relations website: “The amended Equal Pay Act prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees wage rates that are less than what it pays employees of the opposite sex, or of another race, or of another ethnicity for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.”
Additionally, it states that under current law, an employee must demonstrate that he or she is being paid less than an employee or employees of the opposite sex, a different race, or a different ethnicity who are performing substantially similar work. Once an employee has demonstrated this, the employer must demonstrate that the pay disparity is legitimate.
An employer can defeat an Equal Pay Act claim by proving that the difference in pay for substantially similar work is due to seniority, merit, a system that measures production and/ or a bona fide factor other than sex, race, or ethnicity.