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Google faces accusations of harassment and discrimination

The national conversation on sexual harassment seems as if may never end. It seems as if new allegations of harassment or gender-based discrimination pop up every day. Sexual harassment claims have rocked companies of every size, in seemingly every industry.

One of the largest and best-known companies in the world, Google, is facing a scandal of its own. Recently, several employees filed a class-action lawsuit against the Silicon Valley company alleging that it systematically underpays its female workers. A second class-action lawsuit claims that the company has a male-dominated culture that perpetuates sexual harassment against its female engineers.

Search-engine sexual harassment

According to the litigants in the first lawsuit, Google routinely promotes men over women, pays women less than their male peers for equal work and promotes women at slower rates than men. They claim that Google’s policies are discriminatory and have affected thousands of the company’s female employees.

The second lawsuit was filed by a female engineer who states that she experienced sexual harassment regularly while employed by Google. According to her suit, the incidents included sexual comments, physical violence, sexually explicit messages and wrongful termination.

Representatives for the search engine deny these claims. They say that Google has eliminated its pay gap and has strong anti-harassment policies in place.

Gender, Google and the law

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, passed in 1964, forbids employers from discriminating against employees based on several categories, including gender. Gender-based discrimination also encompasses sexual harassment, since this type of harassment is inherently predicated on sex and gender. Every employer that has at least 15 employees is bound by Title VII—and this obviously includes corporations like Google that employ thousands of people. Further, the Equal Pay Act (EPA) makes it illegal for any employer to pay employees less money based on their gender.

Ending workplace harassment

More and more women are speaking out about their experiences with sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. Many female employees are also considering ways to end their abuse and receive compensation from the companies or supervisors that wronged them. One way to do this is by documenting the incidents of harassment, confronting the perpetrator and discussing the issue with your supervisor or the HR department. However, this method is not always effective; in fact, it sometimes leads to unlawful retaliation. In cases like these, another way of pursuing justice is by filing civil litigation, as in the two lawsuits against Google.

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