Three former employees say men were systematically paid more, promoted more often than women

Three female former Google employees filed a lawsuit Thursday against the company charging that women workers were paid less than men for comparable work.

The suit, filed in a California state court in San Francisco, comes amid an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor regarding gender discrimination. The lawsuit says that Google was aware of discrepancies in terms of pay and promotions for female employees, but has yet to fix the problem.

The plaintiffs were a software engineer, a communications worker and a manager. The trio charges that Google not only paid them less than men for a similar amount of work, but that women were also more often hired into positions where they were less likely to be promoted.

“My hopes for the Google suit: to force not only Google, but other companies to change their practices and compensate everyone fairly,” plaintiff Kelly Ellis, formerly a software engineer working for the company’s Google Photos platform, wrote in a post on Twitter. “The lawsuit is about gender discrimination, but for me, this isn't just about women. And it's not just about Google. When it comes to equal pay, I'm sick and tired of the denial from Google that anything is wrong. That's not how you fix it. Time for action.”

The company has denied any wrongdoing in terms of gender discrimination.

"We have extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly,” Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano said in a statement. “But on all these topics, if we ever see individual discrepancies or problems, we work to fix them.”

Google, a part of the umbrella corporation Alphabet, has been under heavy scrutiny for sexual discrimination issues since August, when an engineer posted a lengthy internal memo charging that biological differences between men and women caused the latter to be worse engineers. The author was promptly fired, soon after the memo went public.