Google will pay $ 2.6 million to more than 5,500 employees and former job applicants to resolve allegations that the internet giant has discriminated against female engineers and Asians in California and Washington state.
The settlement announced Monday closes a four-year-old case filed by the Labor Department as part of its periodic reviews of payment practices at federal government contractors such as Google.
That investigation led to allegations that, for a period from 2014 to 2017, Google paid less to female engineers than men in comparable positions. The pay gaps were mentioned in several Google offices in the home state of California, as well as locations in Seattle and Kirkland, Washington.
Google fiercely contested the allegations as baseless before reaching a settlement without admitting any wrongdoing.
"We believe everyone should be paid based on the work they do, not who they are, and we need to invest a lot to make our recruiting and compensation processes fair and unbiased," Google said Monday. The Mountain View, California company also said it has conducted internal audits in recent years to address any inequalities in the pay of its male and female employees.
Nevertheless, according to the settlement, Google will have to pay $ 1.35 million to more than 2,500 female engineers to compensate them for past discrimination alleged by the labor department. Another $ 1.23 million has been set aside for more than 1,700 women and Asians who have unsuccessfully applied for tech jobs at Google.
The settlement also requires Google to contribute $ 250,000 annually for five years to create a reserve for any necessary adjustments needed in the future.
"No matter how complex or size of the workforce, we remain committed to enforcing equal opportunity laws to ensure non-discrimination and equality in the workforce," said Jane Suhr, who oversees federal contract compliance programs. the Labor Department in San Francisco.
The settlement will barely dent Google or its parent company Alphabet Inc., which generates more than $ 130 billion in annual revenue.
But news of a settlement could so ruin Google's once-cherished reputation as an employer that pampers its employees that they are spoiled with soft paychecks, free food, and other luxuries.
In recent years, more of Google's own employees have openly criticized management's practices, including allegations of pampering powerful male executives who harassed female employees. More recently, thousands of Google employees have protested the December departure of an artificial intelligence researcher who says she was fired over a research article that doesn't fit the company well.
The growing unrest within Google culminated last month with hundreds of workers forming a union, a rarity in the tech industry.
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