Uber Technologies Inc. agreed to pay a $10 million settlement this month in order to settle an unequal pay suit calling gender and race discrepancies into question. They also agreed to make some changes to their business practices used for evaluating their workers. Together the two stipulations form the basis for their settlement agreement ending a proposed California class action.
The proposed California class action was filed by female software engineers and engineers of color who allege that Uber did not pay them equally. If the settlement is approved, it would offer $23,800 to each of 420 engineers (approximately) included in the class. All were allegedly affected negatively by the company’s discriminatory pay practices (i.e. performance evaluation system used by Uber supervisors to rank workers). In addition, the company would need to work with a third-party company to create a new system to be used at Uber for promotion evaluation, general employee evaluations, and as a means of determining worker compensation.
Claims included in this particular case date back to summer of 2013. Uber claims they have made a lot of changes since some of the older claims have been filed. In fact, they stated that in the past year they have already developed a new salary and equity structure based on the market and overhauled their employee performance review process. They also stated that they published their very first Diversity & Inclusion report along with delivering various diversity training in leadership conferences to thousands of their employees throughout the world.
The complaint was filed by Ingrid Avendaño, Roxana del Toro Lopez and Ana Medina in California superior court in October 2017. The complaint claimed (on behalf of themselves and other aggrieved employees suffering from Uber’s unfair business practices) that the company violated the California Equal Pay Act and Private Attorneys General Act. The system the plaintiffs claim was in place at the company systematically undervalued female employees and employees of color in comparison to the male, white, or Asian American peers in similar positions. The plaintiffs claim that female employees and employees of color at Uber received lower rankings on average despite equal or even better performance than their co-workers.
The case was removed to federal court on the same day that the proposed settlement was filed, and del Toro Lopez filed an amended complaint. These changes established a class for California workers as well as another class for workers across the country – alleging various violations of both state and federal laws. The complaint filed noted the Uber workplace culture as problematic and related to the pay issue.
Uber is not required to accept any blame or admit any wrong in the situation according to the terms of the proposed settlement. It does require a new evaluation system as well as a system to monitor base salaries, bonuses and promotions internally in order to identify any potential negative effects on female workers and/or women of color.
If you are experiencing pay discrepancies in the workplace or if you would like more information on filing a proposed class action, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.