Heidi Lamar was a pre-school teacher at the Google Children's Center in Palo Alto

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 in order to settle a class action lawsuit that has been in the works for five years.

The plaintiffs in the case account for a broad range of roles within the company, including managers, engineers, sales representatives and at least one pre school teacher. 

They accused Google of putting overqualified women in roles that were paid less, denying promotions to women and generally paying female employees on average close to $17,000 less than men. 

Google is one of the many tech giants who have experienced labor problems relating to pay, workplace culture and hiring practices in recent years. Others who have faced lawsuits include Uber, Twitter and Microsoft.  

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

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

The lawsuit was originally filed in September 2017.

Holly Pease worked at Google for more than 10 years in numerous roles including as a senior manager of business systems integration and manager of corporate data

Four of the plaintiffs have been named publicly. Lamar (left) was a pre-school teacher at the Google Children’s Center in Palo Alto while Holly Pease (right) worked at Google for more than 10 years in numerous roles including as a 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 at the company

Kelly Ellis worked as a software engineer at Google's Mountain View office for four years starting in 2010

Kelli Wisuri (left) worked as a Google Brand Evangelist among other sales roles during her 2 and a half years at the company. Kelly Ellis (right) worked as a software engineer at Google’s Mountain View office for four years starting in 2010

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

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

The plaintiffs accused Google of being in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act. 

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

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that women were paid approximately $16,794 less than men in similar roles per year.  

Ellis worked as a software engineer at Google’s Mountain View office for four years starting in 2010. She was in a senior manager 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 that she was paid as an entry level engineer when she joined the company despite having four years experience. 

She alleged that a male colleague who graduated from college the same year as she did and had less experience was paid more. 

In 2018, a San Francisco judge imposed a 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 the many tech giants who have experienced labor problems relating to pay, workplace culture and hiring practices in recent years

Google is one of the many tech giants who have experienced labor problems relating to pay, workplace culture and hiring practices in recent years

Kelly Ellis (above), 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 grant a restraining order against Alex Gulakov

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 grant a restraining order against Alex Gulakov (above)

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 grant a restraining order against Alex Gulakov (right)

Alex Gulakov tweeted to Ellis on January 2: ‘You deserve to be raped fat worthless c***. Roofies from the deep web are easy to get and it’s time to shut your c*ckhole.’ 

Ellis alleged that Gulakov harassed her in a phone call over Google Hangouts in which he called her a ‘feminazi.’ 

Pease worked at Google for more than 10 years in numerous roles including as a senior manager of business systems integration and manager of corporate data. 

Pease was quoted by her lawyers saying that she is ‘optimistic that the actions Google has agreed to take as part of this settlement will ensure more equity for women.’ 

She charged Google with leading the charge to ‘ensure inclusion and equity for women in tech.’

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

Lamar was a pre-school teacher at the Google Children’s Center in Palo Alto. She was the the last person to join the lawsuit, doing so in 2018 having previously filed her own legal action against the company. 

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

She added, as did 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 salary was outlawed in California in 2018.  

According to a statement from the plaintiff’s law firm, Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Berinstein: ‘[The plaintiffs] believe these programs will help ensure that women are not paid less than their male counterparts who perform substantially similar work, and that Google’s challenged leveling practices are equitable.’ 

In February 2021, Google was forced for fork over $3.8 million to female engineers who argued that they had been paid less than male counterparts and for discrimination against hiring Asian women.  

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