Google settles class action claim based on gender discrimination

Frank S. Clowney III

Despite all of the attention that has been given to workplace discrimination over the last several decades, the problem persists. In fact, a 2017 class action lawsuit against Google just resulted in the tech giant agreeing to pay $118 million to settle allegations of gender discrimination.

The basis of the claim

The lawsuit was supported by claims from more than 15,000 women who alleged that the company enacted pay disparities that disproportionately affected women, with a wage gap of nearly $17,000 between male and female employees. The women also claimed that Google had created an atmosphere that stuck them in positions with lower career trajectories, which meant not only lower salaries, but also a diminished ability to earn bonuses.

The settlement agreement has yet to be approved by the court handling the case, but it’s likely that the matter will be resolved shortly. Google, of course, admits no wrongdoing as part of the settlement, but it’s clear that the women’s claims had validity given the company’s willingness to settle.

Google has faced several lawsuits pertaining to employment law issues. In fact, just last year the company settled another case for $2.5 million after it was accused of underpaying female engineers and failing to give Asian job applicants proper consideration.

What does all of this mean for you?

It means that regardless of where you work, there’s a chance that you could be exposed to discriminatory and harassing behavior. You shouldn’t downplay any egregious behavior to which you’re subjected, even if you feel like your employer has treated you fairly in other aspects of your job.

Therefore, if you think that you’ve been treated unfairly in the workplace, then you need to carefully assess the circumstances of your case to determine if legal action is warranted.

What does this analysis look like? To start, you might want to take the following into consideration:

  • What has been said and done to you?
  • How did those behaviors make you feel?
  • Did you report the behavior to your supervisor or your employer’s human resources department?
  • How has your job been affected by the behavior or your reporting of it?

Remember that a lot of the focus in discrimination and harassment cases is on the type of behavior that was exhibited and how it negatively impacted your employment. So, focus on being as specific as possible about how you were treated.

Preparing for defenses

Even if you hope to eventually settle your case, you need to be prepared to counter your employer’s defenses. Some defenses that you may face include:

  • Poor work performance
  • Excessive tardiness
  • Downsizing
  • Lack of qualifications
  • Business necessity

So, as you start to navigate your case, consider how these defenses might apply and think about how you can appropriately respond to them. To do so, you’ll want to carefully analyze all the evidence at your disposal. An attorney can help you get access to that evidence, too, so that you can build the comprehensive legal arguments that you need on your side.

Are you ready to have an ally on your side?

Lawsuits involving employment law can be more complicated than you think. That’s why as you prepare to take legal action, you might benefit from working closely with a legal advocate who will fight for the outcome that you deserve. So, if you’d like to maximize your chances of achieving the outcome that is right for you, then now is the time to think about what kind of gender discrimination attorney you want on your side.