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

On October 25, 2022, San Francisco Superior Judge Andrew Y.S. Cheng granted final approval to the settlement and consent decree in the pay equity class action against Google in Ellis v. Google LLC.  The settlement covers approximately 17,200 female employees in 236 job titles (“covered positions”) in California since September 14, 2013.  The class members challenged Google’s practices of paying women less than men in the same job codes and assigning women to lower-paying salary levels than men with similar education and experience based on women’s lower pay at previous employers.

Under the settlement, Google will pay $118 million in monetary relief and provide three years of injunctive relief.  As part of the injunctive relief, Google will retain an expert in Industrial Organizations psychology to improve its leveling process so that it does not rely on prior pay in setting salary levels and instead focuses on education, experience, and skills. Google will also retain a labor economist to ensure that persons who perform substantially similar work are paid the same.

Altshuler Berzon LLP and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP serve as Class Counsel. 

Inland Empire United and Latino Voters Challenge Riverside County’s Discriminatory Redistricting under the California FAIR MAPS Act and California Constitution

On June 14, 2022, community advocacy organization Inland Empire United and six Latino Riverside County voters filed suit against Riverside County, its Board of Supervisors, and its Registrar of Voters challenging the County’s 2021 Board of Supervisors redistricting plan under the California FAIR MAPS Act and California Constitution.  Latinos make up nearly half of all residents of Riverside County and roughly two-fifths of the voting population.  Despite considerable growth in the Latino population in the last few decades, there has only been one Latino supervisor on the County’s Board in its 129-year history.  The lawsuit alleges that the County’s 2021 redistricting plan, which includes only a single district with a majority Latino citizen voting age population, unlawfully dilutes the votes of Latino residents, “cracking” Latino communities of interest and denying them equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in supervisor elections.

Altshuler Berzon LLP represents plaintiffs Inland Empire United and four individual Riverside County voters in the lawsuit.  The ACLU of Southern California and law firm Sheppard Mullin together represent two other individual Riverside County voter plaintiffs.

The complaint is available here.  A press release issued by Inland Empire United and the ACLU of Southern California is available here.

Ninth Circuit Rejects Challenge to Home Care Provider Union Dues Deductions

On June 8, 2022, the Ninth Circuit issued a published opinion dismissing claims that deducting voluntary union dues from the paychecks of home care providers violates the First Amendment and the Medicaid Act.  The plaintiffs in the two related cases, who were represented by anti-union advocacy groups, argued that the deduction of voluntarily authorized union dues violates the First Amendment, as well as the Medicaid Act’s “anti-reassignment provision,” which prohibits Medicaid providers from assigning their right to payment from the federal government to other entities.  If the plaintiffs had prevailed, home care workers would have been prevented from paying their union dues using the method that is most convenient and economical for them, which is the method routinely used by workers in thousands of industries across the country.

The Medicaid Act’s anti-reassignment provision was adopted decades ago in order to prevent fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program that had occurred when claims were sold and then falsely inflated by the purchasers.  It was not intended to cover routine payroll deductions like these.  But the courts did not have to reach the merits of the issue because in the two cases below, Polk v. SEIU 2015 et al. and Quirarte v. United Domestic Workers of America, AFSCME et al., the federal district courts dismissed the Medicaid Act claims as a threshold matter, holding that Congress did not intend to give providers a right of action under the anti-reassignment provision.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district courts’ rulings.

Altshuler Berzon LLP represented the unions that were the defendants in each of the cases, SEIU Local 2015 and United Domestic Workers of America, AFSCME.

You can read the Ninth Circuit’s decision here.