Google has claimed in the past that it can’t afford to collect data for the Department of Labor about wage disparities between male and female employees. But women at the company are continuing to hold its feet to the fire.
The latest complaint was brought this week by Heidi Lamar, who worked in Google’s childcare center for four years before quitting in 2017. She alleges that female teachers were paid lower salaries than men with fewer qualifications doing the same job. The tech giant employed 147 women as preschool teachers, but only three men. In spite of this, two of those men were paid higher wages than nearly all of the women.
Lamar was hired at Google’s daycare center for employees’ children in 2013, after receiving a master’s degree in early childhood education and working in the field for five years. Google classified her as a Level 1 employee (the lowest possible category) and paid her only $18.51 an hour. The company declined to negotiate the salary.
But in conversation with a male colleague, she discovered that he had been hired as a Level 2 worker and was paid $21 an hour. The employee in question had only three years of education experience and no master’s degree.
Lamar later learned that another male employee with similar experience also received a higher wage. The only Level 2 female employee at Google’s childcare center was a woman with over 10 years of experience in her field.
A human resources representative told Lamar that there was no bias in Google’s hiring practices—but the department also refused to provide information on the gender breakdown of teachers. Dissatisfied with this response, Lamar quit.
“I didn’t want to work for a company that I can’t trust, that makes me feel like my values of gender equality are being compromised,” Lamar told The Guardian.
Google, not surprisingly, disputed Lamar’s allegations.
“We work really hard to create a great workplace for everyone, and to give everyone the chance to thrive here,” Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano told Observer in an email. “Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no bias in these decisions.”
The company has also claimed that women hired at Google (who represent only 31 percent of the company’s total workforce) received a 30 percent bigger salary increase compared to men. All Google employees also undergo a “gender-blind” salary analysis at the end of each year—the company claims the 2016 version found no gender pay gap.
This has not been the experience for women like Lamar, however. As such, along with her individual complaint she also joined three other women in a class action lawsuit filed against Google over pay disparities. A female judge dismissed an earlier version of the suit last month because it was filed on behalf of all women at Google and thus was too broad. The new lawsuit filed yesterday applies only to women who worked in the company’s engineering, research, management, sales and teaching departments.
Despite Google’s refusal to cooperate, the Department of Labor has also continued to scrutinize the tech giant. Officials say they have discovered “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.” Their investigation is ongoing.