The complaint alleges that Disney routinely compensates women less than men, denies women promotions, and classifies female employees in lower job titles that don’t match their responsibilities. The claims have widened a class-action suit filed in April, intensifying pressure on the media and entertainment industry in California to confront longstanding pay disparities.
The women affected by the pay discrimination case worked in a variety of positions since September of 2013, including product management, product sales, technical operations, software engineering, research and technical writing. “If the class is certified in this case and we prevail, it will change the way that Google does business, and because Google is a market leader, hopefully it will improve gender equality in Silicon Valley and the tech industry,” Jim Finberg, the lawyer representing the women, said in an interview.
A San Francisco judge has approved a class-action complaint alleging that the Silicon Valley corporation systematically underpays women in engineering, management, sales and education, meaning Google will have to publicly respond to claims that thousands of women have been denied proper compensation. A separate case – centered on accusations that a “bro-culture” enabled daily sexual harassment of a female software engineer – is now also advancing as a class action, which could force Google to address sexual misconduct allegations in open court instead of through private arbitration.
“The typical feature film has about 40 to 45 speaking characters in it” she explained. “I would argue that only 8 to 10 of those characters are actually relevant to the story. The remaining 30 or so roles, there’s no reason why those minor roles can’t match or reflect the demography of where the story is taking place. An equity rider by an A-lister in their contract can stipulate that those roles reflect the world in which we actually live.”
Some said misconduct was common – especially at conferences that blend professional work with socializing – and that serial harassers rarely face consequences. In some cases, sexual misconduct has pushed women out of the field altogether. Beyond the personal devastation, there is long-term damage for machine learning and AI, a sector that is dramatically reshaping society, sometimes with powerful technology plagued by harmful biases.
The class-action complaint filed in September provided the most detailed formal accounts to date of gender discrimination at Google, alleging that the company denies promotions and career opportunities to qualified women and “segregates” them into lower-paying positions. Google’s latest efforts to thwart the lawsuit and avoid disclosures come at a time when the tech industry is reeling over allegations of misogyny, sexual harassment and an overall lack of diversity.