Any California worker who has been on the job hunt knows that it is not always easy to negotiate starting pay. For women, who are often socialized to be less demanding, their gender can work against them in these negotiations, which can impact long-term earning potential. In a current lawsuit against Google alleging that the company pays women less than men, these issues are in play.
As The Guardian reports, a judge has ruled that Google must give salary records to the Department of Labor as part of the investigation into a workplace discrimination lawsuit. The company must provide the government with 2014 information and contact information for thousands of employees, who may be interviewed in the investigation. Several high profile companies in the technology industry have been in the news recently for alleged gender discrimination, but since Google has government contracts, resolving these issues is of even greater importance to the Department of Labor. The lawsuit was brought against Google in January, and after providing an overview of 2015 salaries, Google refused to comply with requests for employee contact information, claiming it violated privacy laws. The judge ruled Google must also provide 2014 salary information and contact information for 8,000 employees, less than the 25,000 employees the government requested.
Pay transparency has long been an issue affecting employees, and the San Francisco Chronicle reports that some Google employees took matters into their own hands by creating a spreadsheet where employees can share their salaries with their colleagues. Although the spreadsheet was met with concern by management and many employers try to prevent their employees from discussing pay, both California and federal law prohibits employers from punishing employees who decide to disclose their pay. In fact, without transparency, many women would never know they were paid less than their male colleagues for the same work.