Google, Feds Reach $3.8 Million Settlement Over Job Discrimination Claims

A settlement announced by the U.S. Department of Labor on Monday will send back pay and interest to roughly 5,500 job applicants and current employees at Google who were paid less than men or were turned down for software engineering jobs.

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, FILE)

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Google will pay more than $3.8 million to settle allegations of gender pay discrimination that favored male employees, as well as claims that its hiring practices put women and Asian applicants at a disadvantage.

The Department of Labor said Monday that Google will pay out $1.3 million in back pay and interest to 2,565 female engineers at the company and $1.2 million in back pay and interest to 1,757 female and 1,219 Asian applicants who were not hired for software engineering positions.

The department said that during a “routine compliance evaluation,” its Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) flagged pay discrepancies affecting female software engineers at Google’s facilities in Mountain View, Seattle and Kirkland, Washington, and found hiring rate disparities affecting female and Asian job applicants at the company’s San Francisco, Sunnyvale and Kirkland locations.

Google also agreed to review its hiring and compensation policies, the department said. $1.2 million of the settlement will be set aside over the next five years to ensure pay equity for Google engineering jobs across the country.

“The U.S. Department of Labor acknowledges Google’s willingness to engage in settlement discussions and reach an early resolution,” OFCCP director Jane Suhr said in a statement. “The technology industry continues to be one of the region’s largest and fastest growing employers. Regardless of how complex or the size of the workforce, we remain committed to enforcing equal opportunity laws to ensure non-discrimination and equity in the workforce.”

James Finberg, an attorney at Altshuler Berzon who represents thousands of women suing Google for paying them substantially less than men, said Monday’s settlement does not resolve all their claims.

“Although there appears to be some overlap between the women in our proposed class and the women covered by this settlement, there are thousands of women in our proposed class not covered by this settlement,” Finberg said in an email. 

He said it was important to note that the settlement only releases claims made by the OFCCP, not his class members’ claims.

“This settlement does confirm that my class members have serious claims and are entitled to redress,” Finberg added.

Google’s 2020 diversity report touts a focus on inclusion and hiring growth from underrepresented groups, highlighting that women made up 32.5% of its 2020 hires and account for 32% of its company makeup. Its 2020 racial makeup is 51.7% white, 41.9% Asian, 5.9% Latino, 3.7% Black, and 0.8% Native American.

Its 2019 report showed a slightly less diverse workforce.

A Google spokesperson said the company is glad to put the matter with the feds behind them.

“We believe everyone should be paid based upon the work they do, not who they are, and invest heavily to make our hiring and compensation processes fair and unbiased,” the spokesperson said in an email. “For the past eight years, we have run annual internal pay equity analysis to identify and address any discrepancies. We’re pleased to have resolved this matter related to allegations from the 2014-2017 audits and remain committed to diversity and equity and to supporting our people in a way that allows them to do their best work.”

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