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Sep 01

Discrimination at Google has Become a Serious Issue

Written on behalf of Brian S. Kabateck
September 1, 2017

Google has been in crisis mode due to recent events that have exposed an ongoing problem of discrimination in the workplace. This follows Google’s high profile firing of software engineer James Damore, after he published a 10-page memo criticizing the high tech titan’s diversity initiatives.

There have been a number of women who have talked to civil rights attorneys, arguing that they have been underpaid compared to their male counterparts. Google has refuted claims that it systematically underpays female employees by claiming its gender “blind” approach to remuneration calculations.

According to the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals from discrimination based upon sex. This law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against individuals in hiring, firing, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment, such as promotions, raises, and other job opportunities because of their sex. The laws of most states also make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex.

There are specific laws protecting employees of federal contractors from sex or gender discrimination. Executive Order 11246 forbids federal contractors who do over $10,000 in government business per year from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. Google strongly denied the accusations of inequities, claiming it did not have a gender pay gap, although there have been claims of past employees stating otherwise.

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The jobs do not have to be identical, but they must be substantially equal. It is the content of the job, not job titles, that determines whether jobs are substantially equal. There have been a number of cases where female Google employees have stated that they get paid less than their male counterparts, despite these women being in higher ranking positions than men.

In Google’s case, the labor department’s lawyers have asked the court to cancel all of the company’s federal contracts and block any future business with the government if it continues to refuse to comply with an audit. The audit would oversee how the inside of the company is complying with and, depending on the result, may stop further accusations against a gender pay gap. Google began releasing diversity statistics in 2014 and reported that women made up 31% of its overall workforce; however, only 2% of workers were black and 3% were Latino. White employees accounted for 59% of the US workforce and Asians made up 32%.

This isn’t the first time Google has been accused of discrimination. In 2016, a 64-year-old engineer sued Google for what is known as “age-discrimination,” which Google denied. Robert Heath claims he was denied employment due to his age, stating that he met all of the job requirements. The median age for a Google employee is 29-years-old. Quichen Zang, a former Google employee, also faced discrimination when going into her interview for Google, claiming she felt uncomfortable with the sexist jokes employees made towards her. She states that she was surprised to see that women of color in the workplace were scarce.

If you believe you and many others like you have been somehow injured, cheated, or otherwise harmed by discrimination in the workplace, give us a call and let us help you protect your rights. At Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP, we can help you explore all of your options and ultimately achieve for you the maximum compensation for your harm.

 

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