Google is now embroiled in a full class-action lawsuit over whether it underpaid women

According to Bloomberg, four women who previously worked for Google have been given class action status for their gender equality lawsuit against the search engine company, which they can use to represent around 10,800 women.

The lawsuit alleges that, in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act, Google pays more men than women for the same work, and that Google paid its female employees nearly $ 17,000 less per year than their male counterparts in the same roles. The women filed the lawsuit in 2017, claiming they had fallen into a lower career than their male counterparts – so-called “job leaders”, which resulted in lower bonuses and salaries. The women have since left Google.

“This is a big day for women at Google and in the tech sector, and we are so proud of our brave customers who lead the way,” wrote Kelly Dermody, an attorney who represents the women, in an email to Bloomberg. “This arrangement shows the importance of companies paying women on an equal footing rather than spending money to fight them in litigation.”

The plaintiffs weren’t the only ones accusing Google of systematically underpaid women workers in 2017. The US Department of Labor also sued Google earlier that year for withholding pay data and concluded three months later that Google was responsible for “systemic pay differentials among women across the workforce.” Google agreed to pay $ 2.5 million to employees and applicants earlier this year for alleged pay and hiring discrimination.

A Google spokesman said in an email to The Verge that the company “firmly believes in the fairness” of its policies and practices. The spokesman did not go directly into the status of the class action lawsuit, but said the company has conducted a “rigorous equal pay analysis” annually for the past eight years. “If we find differences in the proposed compensation, including between men and women, we make upward adjustments to remove them before a new compensation takes effect,” added the spokesman. In the last year alone, Google made “upward adjustments” to 2,352 employees – the company for a total of $ 4.4 million. Google had over 135,000 employees as of December and posted profits of $ 17 billion in the last quarter alone.

Dermody, the attorney, told Bloomberg she expected a lawsuit to begin sometime next year.

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