Apple Sued By Female Employees Over Gender Pay Disparities and Discrimination

Apple Sued By Female Employees Over Gender Pay Disparities and Discrimination

Apple Sued By Female Employees Over Gender Pay Disparities and Discrimination

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Jong and Salgado assert that Apple has consistently paid women less than their male counterparts for performing similar roles. According to the plaintiffs, the disparity in pay is not just a recent issue but a long-standing practice that has persisted despite internal and external investigations. 

14 June 2024

By Ishika Kumar

The tech giant Apple Inc. is facing a lawsuit filed by two female employees, Justina Jong and Amina Salgado, who allege gender pay discrimination within the company. 

The lawsuit, which could potentially become a class action, aims to represent over 12,000 current and former female employees in Apple’s engineering, marketing and AppleCare divisions in California.

Allegations of Discriminatory Practices

Jong and Salgado assert that Apple has consistently paid women less than their male counterparts for performing similar roles. According to the plaintiffs, the disparity in pay is not just a recent issue but a long-standing practice that has persisted despite internal and external investigations. They claim that Apple’s hiring practices and performance review processes have perpetuated this inequality.

A core element of the lawsuit focuses on Apple’s historical practice of determining starting salaries based on an employee’s previous compensation history. 

Although this practice was outlawed in California in 2018, the plaintiffs argue that Apple thwarted the law by instead asking about salary expectations, which continued to disadvantage women. 

Joe Sellers, a lawyer from Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC representing the employees, emphasised that such practices have had a disparate impact on women, asserting that Apple’s failure to ensure equal pay for similar work is legally indefensible.

Discrepancies in Performance Evaluations

The lawsuit also highlights biases in Apple’s performance review system, which allegedly awards higher scores to male employees for traits like teamwork and leadership. These higher scores subsequently lead to larger bonuses and better opportunities for promotion for men compared to women. 

Jong and Salgado’s experiences surface this issue: Jong discovered she was being paid $10,000 less than a male colleague performing substantially similar work after accidentally viewing his W-2 form. Salgado’s persistent complaints about wage discrepancies eventually led to a third-party investigation, which confirmed she was underpaid. Although Apple adjusted her salary following the investigation, Salgado was denied back pay for the years she was paid less.

Previous Complaints and Investigations

Before resorting to legal action, Jong and Salgado had raised concerns internally on multiple occasions. However, despite Apple’s own investigations, the company did not rectify the pay disparity until external pressure was applied. This pattern of internal inaction prompted the plaintiffs to seek judicial intervention.

Broader Implications and Context

Apple is not alone in facing such allegations within the tech industry. In 2018, Google settled a gender discrimination lawsuit for $118 million, while Oracle agreed to a $25 million settlement over similar claims. These cases, although resulting in significant settlements, often provided modest per-person payouts after legal expenses were deducted.

The legal team behind the current lawsuit against Apple includes lawyers who have previously pursued similar claims against major tech companies. Their objective is to secure compensation for lost wages as well as declaratory and injunctive relief for all affected women. 

The lawsuit, filed in California state court, seeks to address what the plaintiffs describe as entrenched gender pay disparities at one of the world’s most influential technology companies.

Apple’s Response and Potential Outcome

As of now, Apple has not publicly commented on the lawsuit. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications, not only for Apple but for the tech industry as a whole. If the lawsuit progresses as a class action, it could set a significant precedent regarding corporate accountability and equitable pay practices in the sector.

Moving Forward

For Jong and Salgado, and the thousands of women they represent, this lawsuit is a critical step towards achieving fair compensation and challenging systemic biases within the tech industry. As the case unfolds, it will undoubtedly draw significant attention from both legal experts and the public, potentially sparking further scrutiny and reforms in how tech companies address gender pay equity.

The lawsuit against Apple is an example of the ongoing challenges women face in achieving pay parity and pushes the need for robust mechanisms to enforce fair pay practices. As the tech industry continues to evolve, ensuring equitable treatment for all employees remains a pressing issue that companies must address proactively to foster an inclusive and fair workplace. In particular, a tech giant like Apple should know better.

Joyville