Google's claim that it doesn't have a pay gap problem has once again been disputed, this time by a former preschool teacher who worked at the company's childcare center. Former employee Heidi Lamar filed a complaint on Wednesday with the San Francisco Superior Court alleging that Google paid women in preschool and infant/toddler teaching positions less than men for similar jobs.
The complaint was filed as an amendment to an existing class action lawsuit filed in September by former Google employees Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri. Lamar is now included as a plaintiff on the lawsuit, which includes 30 different positions across six different categories, including product management, software engineering and sales.
The lawsuit alleges that Google puts women in lower salary bands than men, places them in jobs that don't pay as much as ones dominated by men, and promotes women "slowly and at lower rates than it promotes men." It also alleges that female Google employees are paid less than men "performing similar work." Additionally, the complaint claims that Google is or should have been aware of these violations. "Google's failure to pay female employees the same compensation paid to male employees for substantially equal or substantially similar work has been and is willful," the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Lamar had a master's degree in teaching, but was placed in a lower salary level than a male hired at the time who did not have a master's degree in teaching or as much relevant job experience. Lamar was placed at salary Level 1, which paid $US18.51 ($24) an hour, compared to the male who was hired for the same position and duties at salary Level 2, with an hourly rate of $US21 ($27) an hour. Lamar was allegedly paid less than her male coworkers who performed similar positions as her from July 2013 until she was promoted at the end of 2016. Google employed about 150 preschool teachers at the time of Lamar's employment, and about 147 were women. Of the three male teachers, two were hired into salary Level 2.
"Ms. Lamar is only aware of one woman whom Google hired into salary Level 2 around or after Ms. Lamar's start date, and that woman had over ten years of job experience," the complaint states. "All the other women were hired into salary Level 1."
When Lamar discovered that she was underpaid compared to her male colleague in a similar position, she asked Google to compensate her for the wage gap from when she started through when she was promoted. Google declined to pay her for the discrepancy, and Lamar resigned in August of last year.
Lamar's claims follow a number of other pay gap allegations filed against Google over the past year. In April, the US Department of Labour accused the company of gender pay discrimination, which Google denied. The company also declined to provide the agency with requested historical salary records, claiming that the efforts were too costly. In September of last year, however, employees at Google took it upon themselves to compile their own wage data in a spreadsheet acquired by The New York Times, which revealed that men were on average paid more than women. Google spokesperson Gina Scigliano told Gizmodo at the time that its own data shows, when you take "location, tenure, job role, level and performance" into account, that "women are paid 99.7% of what men are paid at Google," and characterised the Times story as "extremely flawed."
Shortly after the spreadsheet was publicised, Ellis, Pease, and Wisuri filed the class-action lawsuit that Lamar has since been added to as a plaintiff. Scigliano once again told Gizmodo that Google disagreed with the wage gap allegations.
"We work really hard to create a great workplace for everyone, and to give everyone the chance to thrive here," Scigliano said in September. "In relation to this particular lawsuit, we'll review it in detail, but we disagree with the central allegations. 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 gender bias in these decisions," he continued. "And we have extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly."
When Gizmodo reached out to Google to comment on the latest wave of allegations made by Lamar, Scigliano said that the company disagrees "with the central allegations of this amended lawsuit," attaching her earlier statement from September.