Ex-Googlers lawsuit alleging women paid less gets fast-tracked by judge

A lawsuit by three women alleging Google has a “sexist culture” and systematically pays women less than men has been speeded up, with a legal designation that paves the way for it to become a class action. 

The three ex-Googlers claim in the suit filed in September that the Mountain View search giant “segregates” women into lower-paying jobs and career tracks while men with equivalent qualifications race ahead. 

Plaintiff Kelly Ellis said in the lawsuit that she had quit the firm after about four years because of “the sexist culture at Google.” 

The other plaintiffs are Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri. 

Google is also faced with a federal probe from the US Labour Department, which has claimed “extreme” pay discrimination against women at the company. Google has denied that claim and said it pays women equally to men. 

Now, a judge of the California Superior Court in San Francisco has designated the women’s lawsuit a “complex case,” which prepares the suit to become a class action. 

Judge Mary Wiss also speeded up the timeline for the case, moving the case-management conference to Oct 26 from Feb 14. 

Google declined to comment on the latest development in the case, but it has said it disagrees with the “central allegations” of the suit. 

“Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no gender bias in these decisions,” company spokeswoman Gina Scigliano said in an earlier statement. 

“And we have extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly. But on all these topics, if we ever see individual discrepancies or problems, we work to fix them.” 

The new designation as “complex,” which came in an Oct 2 order, indicates that the court will be “actively supervising” the case, and it was given because suit seeks class-action status and will involve many witnesses, said the plaintiffs’ lawyer James Finberg. 

The three women seek to bring into the lawsuit all women who worked at Google for the four years leading up to mid-September. — San Jose Mercury News/Tribune News Service