Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Apple Inc. is confronting a proposed class action lawsuit filed on Thursday, accusing the tech giant of paying over 12,000 female employees in California less than their male counterparts in similar roles. The lawsuit, filed in a San Francisco state court by two longtime female employees, alleges systematic underpayment of women in Apple’s engineering, marketing, and AppleCare divisions.

The lawsuit claims Apple determines starting salaries based on employees’ previous earnings or their “pay expectations,” practices that purportedly result in lower wages for women. Additionally, it asserts that Apple’s performance evaluation system, which influences raises and bonuses, is biased against female employees.

Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, California, issued a statement reaffirming its commitment to inclusion and pay equity. The company emphasized its efforts since 2017 to achieve and maintain gender pay equity, partnering annually with an independent third-party expert to review and adjust compensation as necessary.

The plaintiffs are represented by class action law firms Outten & Golden, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and Altshuler Berzon, known for securing significant settlements in previous gender bias cases. Notable examples include a $215 million settlement with Goldman Sachs in 2022 and a $175 million settlement with Sterling Jewelers in 2021, both of which were resolved without admissions of wrongdoing by the companies involved.

California law, since 2018, prohibits employers from inquiring about job applicants’ salary histories to eliminate pay gaps based on sex and race. However, the lawsuit contends that Apple’s reliance on applicants’ pay expectations effectively perpetuates wage disparities, as most applicants provide salary expectations slightly above their previous earnings.

The lawsuit further accuses Apple of disproportionately designating men as “talented” and rewarding them with higher pay. It cites violations of California’s Equal Pay Act, which prohibits sex-based wage discrimination, as well as other state laws against workplace sex bias and unfair business practices. One plaintiff, Justina Jong, also alleges that Apple refused her transfer request after she reported sexual harassment by a coworker.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and penalties, aiming to address and rectify the alleged systemic gender pay disparities within Apple.

The outcome of this case could have significant implications for Apple’s pay practices and for broader efforts to achieve gender pay equity in the tech industry.

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