(Bloomberg) -- Google failed to persuade a judge to throw out accusations that it systematically pays minority employees less than their White counterparts.

A California state judge tentatively ruled that a former employee can proceed with claims that the Alphabet Inc. unit violated the Equal Pay Act in how it treated her and other “non-White” workers. 

Ana Cantu, who identifies as ethnically Mexican and racially Indigenous, argues she was held back as her White peers were promoted. Her allegations that Google discriminated against other employees were thrown out in August because she didn’t provide specifics, but the judge tentatively reinstated the claims in Wednesday’s ruling, concluding that Cantu added sufficient supporting facts in her amended complaint. 

A Google spokesperson said in a statement that the company strongly disagrees with the complaint.

“We are absolutely committed to paying, hiring and leveling all employees fairly and equally and for the past nine years, we have run a rigorous pay equity analysis to make sure salaries, bonuses and equity awards are fair,” according to the statement. “We also undertake rigorous analyses to ensure fairness in role leveling and performance ratings.” 

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Sunil R. Kulkarni said on the court’s website that Google can challenge the tentative ruling before it becomes final at a hearing Thursday. 

The lawsuit Cantu filed in 2021 in San Jose alleges discrimination, harassment and retaliation. She also brought a claim under the state’s Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA, which gives employees the right to step into the shoes of the state labor commissioner to bring enforcement actions.

Cantu argues that Google determines salaries based on an employee’s previous jobs, and that the company’s non-White employees are systematically underpaid because they have historically earned disproportionately less.

Google is aware of the pay disparities but failed to take action to equalize employees’ pay, according to Cantu’s revised complaint. Employees who complained about disparities were denied raises or promotions commensurate with their skills, effort and responsibilities, according to the suit.

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Google argued in an October filing that the claims in Cantu’s revised complaint are overbroad and unsupported. 

The complaint “consists of conclusory allegations and is devoid of facts supporting a PAGA claim for any employee other than herself,” the company said.

The case is Cantu v. Google, 21CV392049, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County (San Jose).


--With assistance from Robert Burnson.

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