Google has agreed to pay $118m (£96m) to settle a class-action lawsuit brought forward by four of its former employees over claims the tech giant “systemically” underpaid 15,500 of its female employees.
The Silicon Valley firm will also bring in an independent labour economist to analyse its pay practices to ensure female workers are not paid less than their male counterparts for doing substantially similar work.
The settlement will see a third-party administrator use an “objective formula” to pay the $118m sum out to the 15,500 women involved in the class-action lawsuit, if the court approves the settlement between Google and its former employees.
The case comes after four of Google’s former employees – including ex-software engineer Kelly Ellis, ex-salesperson Kelli Wisuri, ex-tech worker Holly Pease, and ex-Google run preschool teacher Heidi Lamar– first filed a lawsuit against the tech giant in 2017.
The 2017 lawsuit said Google had violated California labour laws over claims the firm has paid and continues to pay women less than men for carrying out the same jobs, as it says women were consistently put in lower salary bands than men.
The suit also says women were put in jobs that paid less, and that female employees were promoted at slower rates than male workers in the firm.
Ex-Google employee Holly Pease said: “As a woman who’s spent her entire career in the tech industry, I’m optimistic that the actions Google has agreed to take as part of this settlement will ensure more equity for women.”
A Google spokesperson said the firm is “absolutely committed to paying, hiring and levelling all employees fairly and equally,” as they said the firm undertakes “rigorous analyses to ensure fairness” in pay.
“While we strongly believe in the equity of our policies and practices, after nearly five years of litigation, both sides agreed that resolution of the matter, without any admission or findings, was in the best interest of everyone, and we’re very pleased to reach this agreement,” the spokesperson added.