Google pays $3.8m to settle pay-hiring bias complaint

By: AFP      Published: 12:06 PM, 2 Feb, 2021
Google pays $3.8m to settle pay-hiring bias complaint

US labor regulators late Monday said Google has agreed to pay $3.8 million to resolve allegations it discriminated against women engineers and Asian job-seekers.

The US Department of Labor said most of the settlement money will go to 2,565 female employees in engineering positions as back pay and interest, and to nearly 3,000 women or candidates of Asian descent who were not chosen for engineering jobs.

Google said the discrepancies were turned up during a routine internal analysis and it agreed to the settlement to correct the situation, denying it violated any laws.

“We believe everyone should be paid based upon the work they do, not who they are, and invest heavily to make our hiring and compensation processes fair and unbiased," a Google spokeswoman said in response to an AFP inquiry.

She added that Google has annually analyzed its payroll data to look for discrepancies and was "pleased" to resolve these allegations.

An evaluation found gender pay disparities for software engineers at Google facilities in Silicon Valley and in Washington state, according to the labor department.

"Pay discrimination remains a systemic problem," Jenny Yang, the head of the office of federal contract compliance programs, said in a release.

The agency also said that it uncovered "hiring rate differences" that put female and Asian applicants at disadvantages for software engineering positions.

As part of the settlement, Google has agreed to review its policies, procedures and practices related to hiring and compensation, according to the labor department.

Google-parent Alphabet late last year announced moves to address sexual misconduct in its divisions, putting in place changes worked out to settle a lawsuit filed by shareholders.

Under terms of the settlement, the internet giant will spend $310 million on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and let employees use courts instead of private arbitration to resolve disputes over treatment.

The shareholder lawsuit argued that Alphabet's board and senior executives improperly awarded multi-million-dollar severance packages to several male executives accused of sexually harassing female employees, even after internal investigations found the accusations to be credible.

Demonstrators streamed across the Mountain View campus during a walkout in late 2018 over the handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by executives.

The concerns at Google were part of a chorus of voices denouncing the existence of a sexist culture in male-dominated Silicon Valley.

Google closing in-house Stadia video game studio

Google on Monday said it is closing its in-house Stadia video game studio, leaving the job of making titles for play in its cloud-hosted arena to outside developers.

The internet giant set out to transform the video game world in late 2019 with the launch of Stadia, a service crafted to let people access console-quality games as easily as they do email.

An in-house Stadia Games and Entertainment (SG&E) studio created to make exclusive titles for play at the service will be wound down, the company said.

"Creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially," Google said in a blog post.

"Given our focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships, we’ve decided that we will not be investing further in bringing exclusive content from our internal development team SG&E."

Stadia membership of $10 a month comes with some complementary games, but most of the titles in its library cost extra.

The in -house studio will finish games that are nearly complete as it winds down operations, according to Google.

"It’s clear that Stadia's technology has been proven and works at scale," Google said, citing launch of Cyberpunk 2077 on the platform as among its successes.

"Having games streamed to any screen is the future of this industry, and we’ll continue to invest in Stadia and its underlying platform."

The company statement said Jade Raymond, a game industry veteran who led the studio, "has decided to leave Google to pursue other opportunities."

Google and others have been moving to make video games more easily accessible to more devices through its internet cloud.

Amazon late last year unveiled Luna streaming video game service in the United States.

Luna vies with Microsoft's xCloud and Google Stadia in the shift to playing video games directly in the cloud.

Each of the three internet giant's have datacenters they can use for hosting game play, with the option of enhancing features using artificial intelligence.