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Two Apple employees sue over alleged gender discrimination in pay

New York CNN  —  Two female employees at Apple sued the company on Thursday, alleging the company paid women less than men for the same work. The women are proposing a class action, seeking to represent more than 12,000 current and former female employees in the engineering, marketing and AppleCare divisions. Apple is not the first major tech company to face legal challenges for alleged gender discrimination. Google in 2018 agreed to pay $118 million to settle a class action gender discrimination lawsuit, and Oracle agreed to pay $25 million to settle a class action alleging underpaying female employees. Neither company admitted wrongdoing. The lawsuit centers on Apple’s hiring practices and performance evaluations, which the women allege pushed a wage gap between men and women. California made it illegal for employers to ask job candidates about their prior pay in 2018. Instead, since January 2018, Apple asked about pay expectations, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit alleges that Apple used the pay expectation information to set starting salaries, which had lower pay rates for women compared to men who did similar work. The lawsuit also claims that the performance evaluations are biased against women, because parameters such as teamwork and leadership tend to reward men and punish women. This can affect women’s promotions and bonuses, the lawsuit alleged. Justina Jong, a customer and technical training instructor and one of two plaintiffs, said in a release from her attorneys that she noticed a W-2 left on the office printer by a male colleague. “I noticed that he was being paid almost $10,000 more than me, even though we performed substantially similar work. This revelation made me feel terrible,” Jong said in a statement. The lawsuit also alleges that Jong was forced to work in a hostile work environment next to a co-worker who had sexually harassed her. The other plaintiff, Amina Salgado, said she complained to Apple numerous times about the wage gap, according to the lawsuit. Salgado has worked in several roles for Apple since 2012, according to the suit. Eventually, she said, Apple hired a third-party firm to conduct an investigation, which found that she was paid less. “As a result of the third-party investigation, in late 2023, Apple increased Ms. Salgado’s compensation prospectively, but failed and refused to pay Ms. Salgado back pay for the years during which she was paid less than men performing substantially similar work,” the lawsuit alleged. The lawsuit claims the class members are entitled to compensation from the loss of fair wages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.