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Former Google employees sue for pay discrimination

The suit follows an investigation by the US Department of Labor, as well as the infamous "Google memo" on gender diversity.

Three former Googlers are suing the search giant. 
Claudia Cruz/CNET

Google has been facing tough questions about gender discrimination, and on Thursday, three former employees filed a lawsuit against the search giant.

The complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges the company has paid women less than men for doing similar work. The lead attorney of the suit, filed on behalf of former Googlers Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri, is requesting the case be given class action status.  

"Google has discriminated and continues to discriminate against its female employees by systematically paying them lower compensation than Google pays to male employees performing substantially similar work under similar working conditions," the lawsuit says.

The suit follows a gender discrimination investigation into Google's business practices by the US Department of Labor. The topic has also been a hot-button issue since James Damore, a former Google engineer wrote a sweeping 3,300-word memo that went viral last month, claiming that the gender gap at Google is in part due to "biological" differences between men and women. Google ended up firing Damore over the memo.

Now playing: Watch this: Google memo highlights need for more diversity talk

"Google's motto is to do no harm, but it has harmed its women employees by not treating them as well as its male employees," James Finberg of Altshuler Berzon LLP, the lead attorney on the suit, said in a statement. "It is time for that to stop."

Google said it will review the lawsuit, but disagrees with its central claims.

"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 gender bias in these decisions," said spokeswoman Gina Scigliano. "But on all these topics, if we ever see individual discrepancies or problems, we work to fix them, because Google has always sought to be a great employer, for every one of our employees."

Solving for XX: The tech industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about "women in tech."

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