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Former pre-school teacher accuses Google of gender discrimination

Early childhood educators in West Virginia help shape the minds of young children, giving them the strongest possible foundation for future learning experiences. While teaching is not exactly known for being a well-paid profession, former female Google employees claim that the tech giant paid them less than their male counterparts. One teacher recently joined a discrimination suit against the company, which is hardly the first claim of gender discrimination it has faced.

Google's in-house child care center provides essential care and pre-school learning for its employees' children. At one such location, Google employed nearly 150 women as pre-school teachers. Only three men worked at that particular child care center, and one woman claims that the men were better compensated despite being less qualified.

The teacher was hired back in 2013 and offered a position as a Level 1 pre-school teacher, the lowest category for compensation. At the time she had a master's degree in early childhood education and five years of experience, but Google allegedly refused to negotiate her pay. She later learned that two male co-workers who had been hired at about the same time and who had less experience were immediately given Level 2 status, making their starting salaries 13 percent higher than hers.

When she complained to human resources representatives, she was told that Google did not discriminate based on gender. The representative also refused to provide any information regarding gender and the number of Level 1 or 2 pre-school teachers. However, the HR rep did say something that caused the teacher serious worry -- some employees could be hired as a higher level employee if they performed particularly well in the interview. The teacher expressed additional concern that the hiring process itself was biased.

Faced with male co-workers who were routinely hired with bigger starting pay despite less experience and education, she chose to resign. This is not uncommon for victims of workplace discrimination, who are routinely confronted with evidence that they are unjustly underpaid or prevented from obtaining qualified promotions. While compensation is an essential aspect of discrimination suits, many West Virginia victims hope to effect change by successfully holding former employers responsible.

Source: The Guardian, "Google faces new discrimination charge: paying female teachers less than men", Sam Levin, Jan. 3, 2018

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