In Focus: Another Gender Pay Disparity Claim in Silicon Valley

By Kathy Gurchiek Oct 6, 2017
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The question of pay equity has surfaced again at Oracle, the computer technology corporation headquartered in Redwood Shores, Calif. Three of its former engineers, Rong Jewett, Sophy Wang and Xian Murra, allege they were paid less than men in similar roles

It's the latest in a string of pay discrimination-related lawsuits for the Silicon Valley company.

In January, the U.S. Department of Labor brought a case against the employer, alleging white male workers are paid more than women and minorities working comparable jobs.

And in August, a judge rejected efforts by Oracle to undo an arbitration award of $250,000 to a woman who was one of its top sales representatives. The employee had challenged Oracle in late 2015 for paying her hundreds of thousands of dollars less in sales commissions than she was due under her contract, according to a news report. When the judge ruled in her favor, Oracle filed a suit trying to revoke the arbitrator's award, but its motion was dismissed. 

Oracle is not alone in wage-disparity battles. Other companies have faced similar challenges this year, and the issue has even reached the White House.  

Trump's White House Froze an Equal-Pay Rule. Women Are Fighting to Save It. 

A coalition of more than 90 civil rights groups is preparing to challenge the Trump administration's decision to halt an Obama-era initiative aimed at fighting employer discrimination against women and minorities. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has requested copies of emails, voice mails and other communications among the federal officials who opted in August to freeze a rule that would have required companies to file data broken down by race, ethnicity and gender on what they pay workers.
(Washington Post)  

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Pay Equity]

Bias Suit Could Boost Pay, Open Promotions for Women at Google

A lawsuit claiming Google systematically discriminates against women in pay and promotion could force the search giant, and other Silicon Valley companies, to change hiring and promotion practices. Three former Google employees filed the lawsuit in September, and said they would seek to make the case a class action, representing all women who have worked at Google since 2013.
(Wired)   

Anita Hill: Class Actions Could Fight Discrimination in Tech 

In an op-ed, attorney Anita Hill writes: "We can't afford to wait for the tech industry to police itself — and there are few indications that it will ever do so. Instead, women in the industry should collectively consider their legal options. Top among these would be class-action discrimination cases against employers." 
(The New York Times)  

Using Data to Help Close the Gender Wage Gap 

Data analysts can use an organization's employment information to identify wage disparities and, from there, companies can look at their hiring practices and other policies to resolve unwanted pay gaps. The first step in the analysis is for employers to make sure they have all the data they need and that the information is up to date and accurate.
(SHRM Online)   

How to Conduct a Multistate Fair-Pay Audit 

Federal laws such as the Equal Pay Act, Executive Order 11246 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 aren't the only statutes prohibiting pay discrimination. Many states and cities have enacted fair-pay laws. The patchwork of local laws creates a compliance challenge for multistate employers that want to equalize pay among male and female employees. Businesses can be proactive by conducting regular fair-pay audits and fixing any unexplainable pay disparities. 
(SHRM Online)   

Uber Boosts Salaries, Guarantees Pay Equity Across Race, Sexes 

In an effort to tackle recommendations aimed at refurbishing its corporate image after a season of scandal, ride-sharing company Uber is boosting the pay of its employees and guaranteeing pay equity between the sexes and across races.
(USA Today)  

Frequently Asked Questions about the Gender Pay Gap 

The statistic for the pay gap between all women working full time, year-round and all men working full time, year-round is the most commonly used gender pay gap statistic and usually receives the most attention. But research tells us there are many factors contributing to the size of the gender pay gap. Lower pay is the reality for working women in the United States, regardless of the contributing factors.
(American Association of University Women)  

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