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Jan 30, 2018 | 0 comments

Article 1: “Google Hit with Revised Gender Pay Lawsuit”

According to the article, Google’s alleged gender pay inequity extends to its preschool teachers, a new lawsuit alleges.

Four former Google employees, who previously worked in a range of roles at the company, have come forward as part of a revised gender-pay lawsuit filed recently.

Three of the women were part of an earlier lawsuit filed in September alleging that female employees are paid less than their male counterparts. That suit was dismissed in December by a California judge who rejected the class action claim as overly broad.

This newly filed suit more clearly defines the groups allegedly hindered by Google’s unfair pay practices, including engineering, management, sales, and teaching roles.

The new suit adds a fourth former female worker, Heidi Lamar, who was employed by Google as a teacher at Google’s Children Center in Palo Alto from around July 2013 to August 2017. Google offers childcare and early education as a perk for its employees.

Lamar claims that of the 150 teachers employed by Google during her tenure, just three were men. Two of the men hired were paid more than all but one of the women hired, she alleges.

Lamar joins the original plaintiffs, Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri. The women worked at Google in various capacities: Ellis as a software engineer; Pease in various management roles, and Wisuri in various sales roles. The suit seeks class action status, on behalf of women similarly situated at Google.

Google said it disputes the allegations of a gender-based pay disparity at the company.

“We disagree with the central allegations of this amended lawsuit. We work really hard to create a great workplace for everyone, and to give everyone the chance to thrive here,” said Gina Scigliano, a Google spokeswoman. “Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no bias in these decisions.”

The suit cites a U.S. Department of Labor analysis of data on 21,000 Google employees for 2015. “That analysis found ‘systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,'” the complaint said.

Google previously claimed its own analysis of its employees’ compensation showed it had no gender pay gap, citing it pays women 99.7 cents to each dollar a man receives.

It also makes its equal pay methodology available to other businesses to test their own compensation practices.

http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/03/technology/google-gender-pay-lawsuit-revised/index.html

Note: In addition to the article, please see the accompanying video also included at the above-referenced internet address.

Discussion Questions

1. As the article indicates, Heidi Lamar, a former Google preschool teacher, claims that of the 150 teachers employed by Google during her tenure, only three (3) were men. Is this prima facie evidence of gender discrimination against male applicants? Explain your response.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, race, national origin, culture, and religion. Title VII protects men, as well as women, from gender discrimination. Further, Title VII outlaws two (2) particular types of discrimination: a) disparate treatment; and b) disparate impact. Disparate treatment is intentional discrimination, while disparate impact represents an organizational policy or practice that has the force or effect of discrimination. In terms of proving disparate impact discrimination, numbers and percentages do matter, so if 98 percent (147 out of 150) of the preschool teacher hires were women, that could be some evidence of discrimination—if challenged, Google could counter with evidence that despite its best efforts to attract male applicants, few applied for the positions.

2. As the article indicates, Ms. Lamar also claims that of the three (3) men hired by Google during her tenure, two (2) of the men were paid more than all but one (1) of the women hired. Is this prima facie evidence of pay discrimination against female preschool teachers? Explain your response.

This could be evidence of gender discrimination, but Google could counter with evidence that the two men who were paid more than all but one of the women hired had better credentials (education, experience, etc.) than their female counterparts, and therefore meritoriously deserved higher pay.

3. As the article indicates, the subject discrimination lawsuit cites a United States Department of Labor analysis of data on 21,000 Google employees for 20015, with the analysis indicating “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire (Google) workforce.” Is this conclusive evidence of gender discrimination against female Google employees? Explain your response.

Although the United States Department of Labor analysis and conclusions regarding gender discrimination at Google might represent compelling evidence of illegal discrimination in violation of Title VII, it is not necessarily conclusive evidence. Determining liability is within the province of the jury, based on its careful consideration of all the evidence presented at trial.

Article 2: “Engineers Sue Google for Allegedly Discriminating against White Men and Conservatives”

As the article indicates, James Damore, the Google senior software engineer fired over his controversial 3,300 word essay on diversity, filed a lawsuit against his former employer recently.

Damore — along with former software engineer David Gudeman, who is a co-plaintiff — allege that the tech firm discriminates against conservatives, white people, and men. Damore and Gudeman are seeking monetary and other damages.

The 161-page complaint, filed by the Dhillon Law Group in Santa Clara Superior Court, is on behalf of the two men. It is seeking class action status for three groups of people who it claims have been similarly discriminated against: Conservatives, Caucasians, and men.

“Damore, Gudeman, and other class members were ostracized, belittled, and punished for their heterodox political views, and for the added sin of their birth circumstances of being Caucasian and/or males,” the suit reads. “Google’s open hostility for conservative thought is paired with invidious discrimination on the basis of race and gender.”

In response to the lawsuit, Google kept it brief. “We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore’s lawsuit in court,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Google spokesman Ty Sheppard previously said that the company has strong policies against workplace retaliation, harassment and discrimination.

Damore, who worked at Google for three years, was fired from Google in August one week after his memo on Google’s diversity policies went viral. Google CEO Sundar Pichai condemned parts of Damore’s post that he said perpetuated stereotypes about women.

Damore clarified his views in an interview with the media, noting that he was not “saying anything about the women at Google.”

The suit alleges Google awarded bonuses to employees who “disagreed with and disparaged Damore,” keep internal blacklists to prevent conservative individuals from employment opportunities and failed protect employees who expressed support for President Donald Trump.

Gudeman worked at Google from 2013 until December 2016, when he claims he was wrongfully terminated from the tech company, according to the complaint.

He claims he was “chastised for attempting to stand up for Caucasian males and his conservative views” by Google’s HR department.

Attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who is a national committeewoman for the Republican National Committee, said “dozens” of current and former Google employees have reached out to her firm after learning she is representing Damore because they’ve suffering similar discrimination.

During a recent press conference, she said employees at other big tech companies also contacted her firm.

The suit includes allegations from other unnamed current and former employees.

“People don’t want to out themselves as conservatives,” she said. “Google has engaged in some shocking activities in my opinion. I was truly shocked myself … There’s a Lord of the Flies mentality.”

This isn’t the only workplace suit Google is facing. Last week, four former Google employees, who previously worked in a range of roles at the company, came forward as part of a revised gender-pay lawsuit. The women allege that female employees are paid less than their male counterparts.

http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/08/technology/james-damore-google-lawsuit/index.html

Note: In addition to the article, please see the accompanying video also included at the above-referenced internet address.

Discussion Questions

1. Is employment discrimination on the basis of political affiliation prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Employment discrimination on the basis of political affiliation is not specifically prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII only addresses and prohibits five (5) particular types of discrimination: race, gender, national origin, culture, and religion.

2. What (if any) legal authority is Mr. Damore relying on in terms of his attempt to recover damages and other remedies for his alleged termination of employment due to political affiliation?

Mr. Damore is relying on California state law, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of political affiliation. It is important to note that although California generally bars employment discrimination on the basis of political affiliation, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if the employee’s political activities interfere with the employer’s business model or mission, the employer could take disciplinary action (including termination of employment). Similarly, if the employee’s involvement in political activities interferes with job performance, the employer could take disciplinary action as well.

3. As the article indicates, while he was an employee at Google, Mr. Damore circulated an internal memorandum in which he made some general observations about females in terms of their suitability for employment in the technology sector. Conduct some research regarding this memorandum and Google’s reaction to it, and indicate whether, in your reasoned opinion, Mr. Damore’s beliefs regarding women (as reflected in his written memorandum) will likely affect the outcome of his lawsuit against Google.

In his memorandum, Mr. Damore made some general observations about the suitability of female employees in the technology sector. Essentially, Mr. Damore claimed that women are not as well-suited as men to perform technology-related jobs. According to Google, its decision to terminate Mr. Damore was based on the company’s conclusion that Mr. Damore’s stereotypical views of women were inconsistent with Google’s express policy to promote employee diversity.

In his lawsuit, Mr. Damore will assert that California law bars employment discrimination on the basis of political or ideological views—namely, that employees with conservative ideology have the right to express their views. However, Mr. Damore is also subject to Google’s defense, based on California law as well, which states that if the empolyee’s political or ideological views interfere with the employer’s mission, the employer can take disciplinary action (including termination of employment).

Article 3: “California Man Accused in Kansas ‘Swatting’ Death Waives Extradition”

According to the article, a 25-year-old man wanted in Kansas for allegedly making a hoax 911 call that led to the killing of an unarmed man by police has waived extradition proceedings in California.

Tyler Barriss, of South Los Angeles, appeared before a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court recently, five days after being arrested on a fugitive-from-justice warrant for allegedly making the so-called “swatting” call. Barriss acknowledged that he is the person wanted in Kansas, and he waived his right to an extradition hearing.

The warrant, filed by Los Angeles County prosecutors, says Barriss was charged in Kansas on December 29 with the felony of making a false alarm.

Kansas authorities have until February 2 to pick up Barriss, the judge said. In the meantime, he remains held without bail in Los Angeles County. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.

Barriss is accused of prank calling police on December 28 about an alleged shooting with hostages at a residence in Wichita, Kansas.

The incident began around 6:18 p.m. Central Time when authorities there received a 911 call from a man who said he had shot his father in the head while his parents were arguing. The caller also said he was holding his other family members at gunpoint inside the home and was thinking about setting the house on fire, police said.

The caller repeatedly gave authorities his alleged home address, leading Wichita police officers to the house.

Upon arriving at the scene, officers surrounded the front of the house, preparing to make contact with the caller inside, police said.

A 28-year-old man opened the door of the home and was told to raise his hands and walk toward the officers — a command he obeyed for “a very short time” until he moved his hands back down to his waist, police said.

The officers ordered him again to put his hands up but the man lowered them down again, police said. As the man turned toward officers on the east side of the home, he lowered his hands to his waistband and suddenly pulled them up to the officers, police said. That’s when an officer on the north side of the home fired one round, striking the man.

Officers then entered the home and found four individuals inside alive and unharmed, police said.

The man who was shot was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police didn’t find any weapons on him and officers learned he did not make the 911 call, according to Troy Livingston, deputy chief of the Wichita Police Department.

No one else was injured during the incident, police said.

Police have not yet released the identity of the man killed in the incident. But Wichita resident Lisa Finch identified him as her son, Andrew Finch, in an interview with reporters. Lisa Finch said that her son was a father of two young children.

Livingston said investigators believe the prank call was a case of “swatting,” in which a 911 caller intends to deceive law enforcement about an alleged serious emergency. According to The Associated Press, the FBI has estimated that roughly 400 cases of swatting occur nationwide every year.

The officer who fired the shot has been placed on administrative leave, which Livingston said is standard protocol. Livingston did not name that officer but said he’s a seven-year veteran of the department.
Police have released audio of the 911 call as well as seven seconds of grainy footage from a body-camera worn by an officer standing next to the one who fired the shot.

The Glendale Police Department in Los Angeles County confirmed that Barriss made about 20 calls to universities and media outlets throughout the country around the time he was arrested for a bomb threat to ABC station KABC in Los Angeles in 2015. Barriss received a two-year sentence, court records show.

Glendale police said since the calls were made around the country, the FBI would take the scope of the cases. The FBI said in a recent statement that “The FBI worked with Glendale PD based on a series of threats allegedly made by Barriss in/around 2015 and deferred to the state to pursue prosecution, as is the case in many swatting-related matters involving local police.”

Barriss pleaded no contest to two felony charges of false report of a bomb and malicious informing of a bomb in May 2016 in relation to the bomb threat made to KABC. He was sentenced to two years and eight months in jail, court records show.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/california-man-accused-kansas-swatting-death-waives-extradition/story?id=52113725

Note: In addition to the article, please see the accompanying video also included at the above-referenced internet address.

Discussion Questions

1. Define extradition, and explain what an extradition hearing is.

Extradition is the process by which a state (or nation), in response to the request of another state (or nation), turns over to the requesting jurisdiction an individual charged with or convicted of a crime in that jurisdiction.

In an extradition hearing, a court would determine whether extradition is appropriate, and establish the details regarding the actual extradition process.

2. As the article indicates, Tyler Barriss has waived extradition proceedings in California. Why would Mr. Barriss (or any other defendant) waive the right to an extradition hearing?

Any answer to this question would be conjectural, since no one knows the actual reason why Mr. Barriss would choose to waive extradition. Perhaps Mr. Barriss did not feel that there were any strong legal arguments to prohibit his extradition.

3. As the article indicates, Mr. Barriss has been charged in Kansas with the felony of making a false alarm. In your reasoned opinion, should Mr. Barriss be charged with manslaughter? Murder?

Based on the evidence presented in the article, there is no clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Barriss intended for the unidentified man to die as a result of Barriss’ false report. Murder is defined as the intentional taking of the life of another human being with malice aforethought.

Manslaughter involves the death of another human being due to the defendant’s gross negligence or extreme negligence. Although the facts presented in the article might arguably support a manslaughter charge, it is ultimately the prosecutor’s decision as to which particular charge(s) to bring against a defendant. There is a possibility that the prosecutor in this case might later amend/supplement the charge to include an allegation of manslaughter. Such a procedural move would likely be based on the prosecutor’s confidence, based on the evidence, that he or she could prove beyond reasonable doubt the elements of manslaughter.