Apple faces lawsuit over less salary to 12,000 female employees

iPhone maker Apple is facing a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging that it pays less salary to more than 12,000 female employees in California as compared with male workers in similar roles.
Apple female employeesApple, one of the world’s leading technology companies, had approximately 161,000 full-time equivalent employees as of September 30, 2023. Apple’s annual report 2023 does not reveal the number of female employees.

The lawsuit, filed in state court in San Francisco, accuses Apple of systematic underpayment in its engineering, marketing, and AppleCare divisions, Reuters news report said.

The plaintiffs, two women who have each worked at Apple for over a decade, claim that the company’s pay practices are inherently biased against women. They allege that Apple bases starting salaries on previous earnings or “pay expectations,” a practice that tends to disadvantage women due to historical wage gaps. Additionally, the lawsuit contends that Apple’s performance evaluation system, which influences raises and bonuses, is biased against female employees.

Apple has responded to the allegations by reaffirming its commitment to inclusion and pay equity. “Since 2017, Apple has achieved and maintained gender pay equity,” the company stated. “Every year, we partner with an independent third-party expert to examine each team member’s total compensation and make adjustments, where necessary, to ensure that we maintain pay equity.”

However, Eve Cervantez, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, argues that Apple’s policies perpetuate existing gender pay gaps. “This is a no-win situation for female employees at Apple,” Eve Cervantez said. “Apple’s practices continue to widen the gender pay gap, leaving female employees at a significant disadvantage.”

The lawsuit highlights that California law has prohibited employers from inquiring about job applicants’ salary histories since 2018, aiming to eliminate pay disparities based on sex and race. Despite this, the complaint alleges that Apple’s reliance on applicants’ pay expectations effectively perpetuates wage disparities, as most individuals tend to propose salaries only slightly higher than their previous earnings.

Further claims in the lawsuit state that Apple disproportionately designates men as having “talent,” resulting in higher pay for those employees. This, the plaintiffs argue, is a violation of California’s Equal Pay Act and state laws against sex discrimination and unfair business practices.

One of the plaintiffs, Justina Jong, also alleges that Apple refused to transfer her to a different team after she reported sexual harassment by a coworker. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and penalties for the affected female employees.

The plaintiffs are represented by class-action law firms Outten & Golden, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and Altshuler Berzon, which have secured significant settlements in previous sex bias cases, including a $215 million settlement with Goldman Sachs and a $175 million settlement with Sterling Jewelers.

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