Google gender-discrimination suit by three women tossed out

A lawsuit by three female former Google employees claiming the tech giant paid women less than men has been dismissed, but may reappear in a different form.

The women — Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri — filed suit in September, alleging Google had a “sexist culture” and systematically discriminated against women by segregating them into lower-paying jobs and career tracks, while men with equivalent qualifications leaped ahead.

Google, which is also facing a federal probe over alleged underpayment of women, has consistently denied paying women less than men, and says its own annual analysis shows no gap in pay between the genders.

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Now, a California state court judge has thrown out the lawsuit because in seeking class-action status, it cast too wide a net, according to a new report.

The plaintiffs had sought to include in the suit all women employed by Google during the previous four years. But San Francisco Superior Court Judge Mary Wiss said Dec. 4 that the legal action was inappropriate because it attempted to cover all the female employees during that time period, Reuters reported Dec. 6.

Wiss gave the three women 30 days to file a new complaint “on behalf of only those women who faced pay discrimination,” according to Reuters.

“Wiss said the plaintiffs’ claims were vague, and that they must show how specific groups of women were affected by Google’s pay policies.”

The judge also said two of the three plaintiffs hadn’t shown that they did comparable work to men who were allegedly paid more, Reuters reported.

Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano, in response to the judge’s ruling, said, “We work really hard to create a great workplace for everyone, and to give everyone the chance to thrive here. If we ever see individual discrepancies or problems, we work to fix them.”

James Finberg, lawyer for the women, said they would file a new complaint by early January that “makes clear that Google violates the California Equal Pay Act … by paying women less than men for substantially equal work in nearly every job classification,” according to Reuters.

For plaintiff Ellis, a former senior software engineer, the lawsuit was not the first time she’d gone after Google on gender issues. In 2015, she tweeted that she had suffered sexual harassment at the firm. After harassment by one of her superiors, she complained to the company, but instead of investigating her claim, Google reprimanded her, Ellis alleged. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on that claim by Ellis.

On Dec. 6, after Time magazine named as “Person of the Year” the “silence breakers” of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse of women, Ellis tweeted out some dissatisfaction with the cover photo of five women.

“I’ve got to say that while I’m happy #MeToo is Time’s person of the year, there’s a certain bitterness,” Ellis tweeted. “I came forward about harassment in tech before there was a movement and was not lauded, but harassed. Where’s my cover?”


Photo: Google CEO Sundar Pichai meets with Aditi Panwar, 10, of San Jose, left, Asmi Sawant,10, center, of San Jose, and Aadya Batra,9, right , of San Jose, during the ” Made with Code,” event, a program by Google to teach computer science to girls in Mountain View, Calif., on Thursday, August 10, 2017. (JosieLepe/Bay Area News Group)


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