Google Settles With Labor Department Over Hiring, Pay Discrimination Claims



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Google LLC agreed to pay more than $3.8 million to resolve a case of hiring and pay discrimination at several locations in California and Washington state, the Labor Department said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Google agreed to pay nearly $1.4 million in back pay and interest to 2,565 female employees in engineering positions and about $1.2 million in back pay and interest to 1,757 female and 1,219 Asian applicants for software engineering positions who weren’t hired.

The company also agreed to set aside at least $1.25 million over the next five years for potential pay-equity adjustments for U.S. employees in engineering positions at Google’s Mountain View, Kirkland, Seattle and New York offices.

If the pay adjustments for any year are less than $250,000, Google is to use the difference to support diversity and inclusion efforts and programs, according to the agreement.

Google also agreed to strengthen policies related to hiring and compensation and correct any discrepancies to ensure nondiscrimination, the Labor Department said.

Alphabet had about 132,000 employees as of Sept. 30, according to a securities filing.

The agency spotted pay disparities affecting women in software engineering positions at Google’s Mountain View offices, as well as in Seattle and Kirkland during a routine evaluation. It also found hiring rate differences that disadvantaged female and Asian applicants for software engineering positions at Google’s locations in San Francisco and Sunnyvale as well as in Kirkland.

A company representative said in a statement that Google had run annual internal pay-equity analyses for the past eight years to identify and address discrepancies and that the allegations in question appeared in the 2014-2017 audits.

“We believe everyone should be paid based upon the work they do, not who they are, and invest heavily to make our hiring and compensation processes fair and unbiased,” the company said.

Google, long known for open internal debate among employees, has faced pushback from workers who said, among other things, that the company has done little to address complaints of discrimination and harassment. Some employees have since formed the Alphabet Workers Union, a Communications Workers of America Local 1400 affiliate, for employees, temporary employees, contractors and vendors at Google and other Alphabet businesses.

The union criticized the company’s actions against Margaret Mitchell, Google’s co-head of ethical artificial intelligence, and pointed to the firing of former co-lead Timnit Gebru, saying: “Together these are an attack on the people who are trying to make Google’s technology more ethical.”

Write to Maria Armental at maria.armental@wsj.com

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Appeared in the February 2, 2021, print edition as ‘Google Pays $3.8 Million To Resolve Bias Cases.’



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