Court Grants Preliminary Approval to Settlement of Pay Equity Class Action Against Google Providing $118 Million in Class Monetary Relief and Comprehensive Injunctive Relief

On July 25, 2022, San Francisco Superior Judge Andrew YS Cheng granted preliminary approval to the settlement of the pay equity class action against Google in Ellis v. Google LLC, No. CGC-17-561299.  Under the settlement, Google will pay $118 million and will modify its leveling and pay equity practices.  The settlement covers approximately 16,500 female employees in 236 job titles (“covered positions”) in California since September 14, 2013.

In addition to the $118 million in monetary relief, the settlement provides that an independent third party expert will analyze Google’s leveling-at-hire practices and that an independent labor economist will review Google’s pay equity studies.  The post-settlement work will be supervised by an external Settlement Monitor over the next three years.  The lawsuit challenged Google’s pay and leveling processes, and Plaintiffs believe these programs will help ensure that women are not paid less than their male counterparts who perform substantially similar work, and that Google’s challenged leveling practices are equitable.

Class Counsel:  Altshuler Berzon LLP and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP are serving as Class Counsel.

Plaintiffs:  The Named Plaintiffs are Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, Kelli Wisuri, and Heidi Lamar.  All of the Plaintiffs are women who worked for Google in California in a covered position since September 14, 2013.  Their backgrounds:

Plaintiff Kelly Ellis worked as a Software Engineer at Google’s Mountain View office for approximately four years.

Plaintiff Holly Pease worked for Google for approximately 10.5 years, in both Mountain View and Sunnyvale, holding numerous technical leadership roles, including: Manager, Corporate Network Engineering; Manager, Business Systems Integration; Manager, Corporate Data Warehouse/Reporting Team; and Senior Manager, Business Systems Integration.

Plaintiff Kelli Wisuri worked for Google for approximately 2.5 years in its Mountain View office, as an Enterprise Operations Coordinator, Enterprise Sales Operations Associate, and Google Brand Evangelist, Executive Communications Program (aka Sales Solutions Senior Associate).

Plaintiff Heidi Lamar worked as a Preschool Teacher and Infant/Toddler Teacher at Google’s Children Center in Palo Alto for approximately four years.

Next Steps:  The Settlement Administrator will mail a notice describing the settlement terms to Class Members in late August.  The court has scheduled a final approval hearing for October 31, 2022.  If the court grants final settlement approval, the third-party administrator will allocate settlement amounts based on an objective formula to each qualifying class member.

Statements on the Settlement:

“As a woman who’s spent her entire career in the tech industry, I’m optimistic that the actions Google has agreed to take as part of this settlement will ensure more equity for women,” said Plaintiff Holly Pease.  “Google, since its founding, has led the tech industry.  They also have an opportunity to lead the charge to ensure inclusion and equity for women in tech.”

“Google has long been a technology leader.  We are delighted that in this Settlement Agreement and Order Google is also affirming its commitment to be a leader in ensuring pay equity and equal employment opportunity for all of their employees,” said Plaintiffs’ co-counsel Jim Finberg.