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Google owes executive $1 million after losing gender bias lawsuit

Google owes executive $1 million after losing gender bias lawsuit


Ulku Rowe, a female Google Cloud executive, accused the company of giving higher pay to less-experienced male counterparts.

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Illustration: The Verge

A jury found Google guilty of sexual discrimination and awarded female Google Cloud executive Ulku Rowe, who filed the complaint, $1.1 million. Rowe’s lawsuit alleged that the company gave higher pay to less-experienced male cohorts and that it later denied her promotions in retaliation for her complaints, both internal and later in court.

Bloomberg Law reported that the jury ruled that Google owes Rowe for both punitive damages and pain and suffering. However, the jury reportedly found that while Google treated Rowe “differently than other employees because of her gender,” Rowe hadn’t proven that Google violated New York law by paying her less than two of her male counterparts.

Rowe said before the trial started that her time at Google was “overshadowed by what I believe are unfair compensation and treatment due to my gender.” She alleged that, after the company passed her over for a promotion to vice president that was given to a man who had neither applied nor was qualified, and that, after she filed her lawsuit, the company again denied her another similar promotion.

In an email sent to The Verge, Attorney Cara Greene of Outten & Golden said that the “unanimous verdict not only validates Ms. Rowe’s allegations of mistreatment by Google,” but that it sends a message that “discrimination and retaliation will not be tolerated in the workplace.”

Google spokesperson Courtenay Mencini said in a statement emailed to The Verge that the company was “pleased” with the jury’s finding that Rowe had been “paid and leveled fairly,” and that “she was not subsequently denied any promotions — with no violation of New York’s pay equity laws.” Mencini added:

We disagree with the jury’s finding that Ms. Rowe was discriminated against on account of her gender or that she was retaliated against for raising concerns about her pay, level, and gender. We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy. We take employee concerns seriously, and we thoroughly investigated Ms. Rowe’s concerns when she raised them and found there was no discrimination or retaliation.

Greene credited “the efforts of thousands of Googlers who walked out in 2018 and demanded reforms.” Over 20,000 Google employees and contractors staged a walk-out protest that year after a New York Times investigation revealed that the company had given Android co-founder $90 million as he left the company over sexual assault allegations.

Update October 22nd, 2023, 11:47AM ET: Updated with a statement from Google and added clarification about the jury’s findings regarding Rowe’s pay inequity allegations.

Correction October 22nd, 2023, 12:54PM ET: An earlier version of this article misspelled attorney Cara Greene’s last name. That has been corrected. We regret the error.