Google LLC: Battling Gender Discrimination Allegations


On September 14, 2017, three female former employees of Google LLC (Google) filed a class action suit (CAS) accusing the company of systematically discriminating against women, stating that Google pays women less than men for comparable work and that it denied them equal opportunities in other employment matters. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of all women employed by Google in California who had worked at the company at any time during the four years before filing of the complaint through the date of trial. This was not the first time Google had faced allegations for gender pay discrimination. In September 2015, as part of a routine audit, the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) probed Google’s pay practices and alleged pay discrepancies between men and women. The DoL demanded more data from Google for a comprehensive analysis, which led to a contentious fight between the two over Google withholding information. In December 2017 the DoL filed a lawsuit against Google, trying to force it to provide the required data for the compliance audit. Nevertheless, on all occasions, the technology behemoth denied accusations of inequities and claimed it always conducted regular and robust analyses to ensure pay parity. Long regarded as one of the best employers, the scrutiny became intense after multiple issues related to gender discrimination cropped up in quick succession, questioning the unequivocal commitment by Google to diversity and inclusion. Students are asked to analyze the arguments of the plaintiffs, to evaluate the possible fall-out for Google, and in general to make recommendations on how a corporation can avoid the situation that Google finds itself in.

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