A class-action lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of all women who have been employed by Google over the last four years alleges that the tech giant is violating labor laws by systematically "segregating" women into lower-paying jobs.
"My hopes for the Google suit: to force not only Google, but other companies to change their practices and compensate EVERYONE fairly."
—Kelly EllisKelly Ellis, one of the plaintiffs in the case, says she quit her job at Google in 2014 after being denied a promotion despite outstanding performance reviews and qualifications.
"I have come forward to correct a pervasive problem of gender bias at Google," Ellis said in a statement. "It is time to stop ignoring these issues in tech."
Two other women—Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri—joined Ellis in filing the suit, which could have implications for thousands of current and past Google employees.
According to the lawsuit, "Google has discriminated and continues to discriminate against its female employees by systematically paying them lower compensation than Google pays to male employees performing substantially similar under similar working conditions."
Google perpetuates its discriminatory practices by "assigning and keeping women in job ladders and levels with lower compensation ceilings and advancement opportunities than those to which men with similar skills, experience, and duties are assigned and kept," the plaintiffs add.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Ellis said the gender pay gap is a deeply ingrained problem at Google, and while "lip service" has been paid by companies that claim to be committed to combating pay disparities, the problem "hasn't really changed."
Employees filing lawsuits "is going to be one of the only ways to get these companies to change how they hire and compensate women," Ellis concluded.
My hopes for the Google suit: to force not only Google, but other companies to change their practices and compensate EVERYONE fairly.— Kelly Ellis (@justkelly_ok) September 14, 2017
The suit comes as gender-based pay discrimination is making headlines nationally, with President Donald Trump waging an "all-out attack on equal pay."
The GOP-dominated Congress appears happy to play along. The House on Thursday voted down an amendment that would have preserved the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) equal pay data collection initiative, an Obama-era program that Trump halted last month.
Google, for its part, has long been plagued with charges of pay discrimination. In April, a Labor Department investigation of the tech firm found evidence of "systemic compensation disparities."
"The government's analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry," concluded Labor Department solicitor Janet Herold.