Apple Sued for Underpaying Female Employees in California

Apple Sued for Underpaying Female Employees in California

  • Two women who had worked with Apple for close to a decade filed a lawsuit against the company for underpaying women.
  • According to them, both the hiring and appraisal processes of the company are flawed and biased, leading to this gender bias.
  • Apple has denied these accusations and said that it has managed to achieve and maintain pay equity since 2017.
Apple Gets Sued For Underpaying Female Employees In California

On Tuesday, two women filed a lawsuit against Apple in a state court in San Francisco, accusing the tech giant of paying women less than men in comparable jobs.

These two women have worked with the company for more than a decade and found that this gender bias was a company-wide issue, affecting more than 12,000 women across engineering, marketing, and AppleCare divisions.

One of the plaintiffs is Justina Jong, who joined this suit after she found the W2 tax form of a male colleague (he accidentally left it at the printer) and realized that he was making a lot more than her for the same work.

“I noticed that he was being paid almost $10,000 more than me, even though we performed substantially similar work. This revelation made me feel terrible.” – Justina Jong

Apple’s Problematic Hiring Process

Here’s how Apple decided on staff salaries before and after 2018:

  • Before 2018, every new recruit was asked to share their salary in their last job and then an offer was made based on that.
  • However, after a state law was passed banning this practice, Apple started asking people about their salary expectations and negotiated from there on.

Both these practices led to unequal wages between male and female employees.

James Finberg, who is the attorney of one of the plaintiffs, said that just because someone is willing to work for less doesn’t justify unequal compensation for the same job role.

Another point raised by the plaintiffs is that Apple’s internal performance review system is flawed and biased. It automatically gives men more scores on parameters like leadership and teamwork.

What Does Apple Have to Say in Response?

  • Apple denied these allegations and said that all Apple employees are treated equally, regardless of their gender.
  • The company further added that it has achieved gender equity since 2017 and has continued to maintain it ever since.
  • Apple also teams up with independent third-party experts every single year, who then analyze the compensation of every employee and make adjustments to ensure equity is maintained.

However, there’s no smoke without fire and Apple could very well be in the wrong here. On top of that, the plaintiffs are represented by class action law firms Outten & Golden, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and Altshuler Berzon. These firms have immense experience in such gender bias cases.

Just last year, these firms won a lawsuit against Goldman Sachs, forcing the company to pay $215 million in settlement. They won another case against Sterling Jewelers in 2022 that resulted in a $175 million settlement.

The problem of gender-based payment discrimination is much bigger and industry-wise than what it may look like. Other tech giants have also been slammed with similar lawsuits. For example,

  • Oracle paid $25 million to settle a payment discrimination case just a few months ago.
  • In 2022, Google LLC had to pay a whopping $118 million in a similar case to Apple’s i.e. for discriminating against female employees.

Apple seems to have gotten itself into an uphill battle here, which might not turn out well for the company, especially when it’s already contesting serious allegations of monopolizing the smartphone industry and intentionally hurting smaller companies.

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