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Google Ordered to Pay $1.1 Million for Gender Discrimination Against Executive

Google October 2023 Core Update

A jury has ruled that Google must pay $1.1 million to a former female executive who sued the technology giant for gender discrimination and retaliation.

The high-profile verdict underscores ongoing concerns about equity in Silicon Valley’s male-dominated tech culture.

Female Exec Alleges Unequal Pay and Promotion Denials

Ulku Rowe, a veteran tech leader who joined Google’s cloud division in 2017, accused the company of paying her less than male colleagues hired at the same time in similar roles. Despite having over 20 years of experience, she claimed Google gave higher compensation packages to less qualified men.

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Rowe also alleged that after complaining internally about the pay disparity, Google denied her promotions in retaliation. She said Google passed her over for an executive promotion that went to an underqualified man who hadn’t even applied.

Unanimous Jury Finds Google Discriminated and Retaliated

After a 12-day trial, the New York jury unanimously concluded Google discriminated against Rowe because of her gender. They also found the company illegally retaliated when she complained about unequal treatment.

Specifically, the jury ruled Google subjected Rowe to harm, including economic and emotional distress. But they did not find sufficient evidence Google violated pay equity laws, despite the compensation differences.

The $1.1 million verdict includes damages for both retaliation and pain and suffering.

Google Contests Ruling, Says It Prohibits Retaliation

Google spokesperson Courtenay Mencini contested the verdict in a statement. She said Google prohibits retaliation and claimed the company thoroughly investigates all employee complaints.

“We disagree with the jury’s finding that Ms. Rowe was discriminated against or retaliated against,” Mencini said. She added Google was “pleased” the jury found no pay discrimination.

Verdict Adds Pressure on Tech Firms to Reform Cultures

Rowe’s attorney, Cara Greene, said the ruling validates Rowe’s mistreatment claims. She said it sends a powerful message that discrimination and retaliation will not be tolerated, even at major tech firms.

The case spotlights ongoing concerns about subtle gender bias and discrimination that pervade macho tech workplaces, despite growing diversity efforts. It also comes after massive 2018 Google employee walkouts over the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations.

While the $1.1 million damages are minor for a giant like Google, the verdict increases public pressure on tech companies to enact meaningful reforms. It exposed contradictions between Google’s public rhetoric on diversity and its internal realities.

Part of Greater Scrutiny of Tech Industry

The Rowe verdict adds to increasing legal and public scrutiny of systemic discrimination and toxic cultures in tech. Tech giants like Google face growing calls to move beyond superficial commitments to equality and foster truly inclusive work environments.

The tech industry remains dominated by men, especially in high-paying technical and leadership roles. But recent lawsuits and activism have helped expose instances of bias and harassment.

While Silicon Valley has slowly improved diversity levels, cases like Rowe’s suggest substantial progress remains needed to address engrained equity issues. The verdict is likely to encourage tech workers to continue speaking out against unlawful discrimination and retaliation.

Ultimately, the unanimous ruling in Rowe’s case shows enduring problems with gender equity in tech roles and pay. As public awareness and legal consequences grow, tech giants will face rising pressure to enact meaningful reforms addressing systemic discrimination.


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