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Google pays $3.8 mn to settle pay-hiring bias complaint

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US labour regulators late Monday said Google has agreed to pay $3.8 million to resolve allegations it discriminated against women engineers and Asian job-seekers.

The US Department of Labor said most of the settlement money will go to 2,565 female employees in engineering positions as back pay and interest, and to nearly 3,000 women or candidates of Asian descent who were not chosen for engineering jobs.

Google said the discrepancies were turned up during a routine internal analysis and it agreed to the settlement to correct the situation, denying it violated any laws.

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“We believe everyone should be paid based upon the work they do, not who they are, and invest heavily to make our hiring and compensation processes fair and unbiased,” a Google spokeswoman said in response to an AFP inquiry.

She added that Google has annually analyzed its payroll data to look for discrepancies and was “pleased” to resolve these allegations.

An evaluation found gender pay disparities for software engineers at Google facilities in Silicon Valley and in Washington state, according to the labor department.

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“Pay discrimination remains a systemic problem,” Jenny Yang, the head of the office of federal contract compliance programs, said in a release.

The agency also said that it uncovered “hiring rate differences” that put female and Asian applicants at disadvantages for software engineering positions.

As part of the settlement, Google has agreed to review its policies, procedures and practices related to hiring and compensation, according to the labor department.

Google-parent Alphabet late last year announced moves to address sexual misconduct in its divisions, putting in place changes worked out to settle a lawsuit filed by shareholders.

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Under terms of the settlement, the internet giant will spend $310 million on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and let employees use courts instead of private arbitration to resolve disputes over treatment.

The shareholder lawsuit argued that Alphabet’s board and senior executives improperly awarded multi-million-dollar severance packages to several male executives accused of sexually harassing female employees, even after internal investigations found the accusations to be credible.

Demonstrators streamed across the Mountain View campus during a walkout in late 2018 over the handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by executives.

The concerns at Google were part of a chorus of voices denouncing the existence of a sexist culture in male-dominated Silicon Valley.

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