Apple Underpaid Female Workers in California, Argues New Lawsuit

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A proposed class action lawsuit is accusing Apple of underpaying over 12,000 female workers. The lawsuit was filed in state court in San Francisco by two women who worked at the company for over a decade. The women say that female workers in engineering, marketing, and AppleCare divisions were systematically paid less compared to their male counterparts.

The female plaintiffs argue that two policies in place at Apple have helped perpetuate the pay disparity between the company’s female and male workers.

The lawsuit explains that Apple’s compensation pancakes are rooted in the systematic undervaluation of women because they base female workers’ starting compensation packages on their pay at their previous jobs. In doing so, the company is only perpetuating low pay packages that female workers were already suffering from.

The practice of asking about salaries from previous job roles was banned after a new law in the California Labor Code Section 432.3 went into effect. After 2018, employers can no longer ask about previous salaries, but many have amended their questioning to ask about “pay expectation.” The lawsuit argues that “Apple’s policy or practice of collecting information about pay expectations and using that information to set starting salary has had the effect of perpetuating past pay disparities and paying women less than men performing substantially similar work.”

The lawsuit also took issue with the way Apply evaluated female employee performance. The plaintiffs argued that the performance evaluation systems allegedly set raises and bonuses in a manner that is biased against women and that women and men were scored differently during these evaluations.

The complaint alleges that Apple is violating the California Equal Pay Act with its current practices. Under this law, discrimination in pay based on an individual’s sex is prohibited. Additional state laws prohibit businesses from engaging in or perpetuating workplace sex bias or unfair business practices that are also being violated, according to the complaint.

This new lawsuit was prompted in part because of an internal employee-run survey that revealed a pay differential of 6% between male and female workers in the same role. In response to this survey, Apple banned any future internal employee surveys.

Apple has maintained that its policies are committed to gender and pay equality. The company shared in a statement, "Since 2017, Apple has achieved and maintained gender pay equity and 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."

Eve Cervantez, the lawyer representing the San Francisco women, disagreed and explained that the company’s current practices are only perpetuating and widening current gender pay gaps.

The lawsuit is seeking restitution for the alleged underpayments. The complaint is also seeking penalties and interest.

Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate from James Madison University, where she studied English and Education. Residing in Central Virginia with her husband and two young daughters, she balances her workaholic tendencies with a passion for travel, exploring the world with her family.
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