On March 27, 2018, California Judge Mary E. Wiss of the San Francisco Superior Court issued an order overruling a demurrer by internet kingpin Google in the proposed class action of Kelly Ellis et al. v. Google, LLC (formerly Google, Inc.), case number CGC-17-561299 Plaintiffs, four former female employees of Google, brought suit for systematic favoritism of male employees over female employees, including hiring position and salary, promotion time frames, positions and amounts, and paying women less than men for substantially equal or similar work. The suit proposes a class of six employee categories containing a total of 30 positions and targets Google’s entire California operation, which includes approximately 21,000 employees at its headquarters alone.
Google argued that there were no specific allegations for the two categories of employees for which there were no named class representatives. Judge Wiss disagreed and held it was enough for Plaintiffs to allege a numerous and ascertainable class with a well-defined community of interest, including a pattern or practice of gender discrimination across all the categories of positions. Judge Wiss explained that the entire class is subject to the same compensation policies and practices.
The ruling was a dramatic victory for Plaintiffs. The two challenged categories collectively total 15 of the 30 employee positions at issue. Looking forward, Judge Wiss’ order could become the blue print in gender discrimination pay cases and possibly California class actions in general. So long as the class allegations encompass all plaintiff categories, a named class representative with specific allegations of misconduct is not needed for each category of plaintiff.