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Google will pay $2.5 million to underpaid female engineers and overlooked Asian applicants

The US Department of Labor alleges systemic pay and hiring discrimination

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google has agreed to pay $2.5 million to more than 5,500 employees and job applicants impacted by alleged systematic pay and hiring discrimination. The US Department of Labor found that female software engineers were being underpaid. It also identified “hiring rate differences that disadvantaged female and Asian applicants” for Google engineering positions.

As part of the settlement, Google will hand over $1,353,052 in back pay and interest to 2,565 female engineers. It will also pay $1,232,000 in back pay and interest to 1,757 female engineering applicants and 1,219 Asian engineering applicants for “engineering positions not hired.”

The alleged disparities impacted employees at Google offices in Mountain View, Seattle, and Kirkland, Washington.

Google will also set aside $1,250,000 for pay-equity adjustments, for a total of $3.8 million to resolve this issue. That $1.25 million is earmarked for engineers in Mountain View, Seattle, Kirkland, and New York, which house 50 percent of Google’s engineering staff in the US, according to the Department of Labor.

The news comes after years of conflict between Google workers and management. In 2018, more than 20,000 employees walked out of work to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations. Earlier this year, roughly 230 employees and contractors formed a minority union. The organization, the Alphabet Workers Union, now has more than 800 members. AWU specifically wanted contractors to be part of the union, as they typically get left out of the high salaries and benefits enjoyed by full-time employees.

“Pay discrimination remains a systemic problem,” said Jenny R. Yang, director of the office of federal contract compliance programs. “Employers must conduct regular pay equity audits to ensure that their compensation systems promote equal opportunity.”

In a statement emailed to The Verge, a Google spokesperson said: “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. For the past eight years, we have run annual internal pay equity analysis to identify and address any discrepancies. We’re pleased to have resolved this matter related to allegations from the 2014-2017 audits and remain committed to diversity and equity and to supporting our people in a way that allows them to do their best work.”