Three female employees at
A California state judge certified the class action Thursday, allowing the lawsuit to advance on behalf of more than 4,000 women who claim the database giant pays men more for doing the same job.
“Whether the jobs at issue in this case are substantially equal or similar is a question of fact for a jury,” California Superior Court Judge
“This is just a procedural step unrelated to the merits of the case and we look forward to trying those in court,” Oracle said Friday in an email.
The ruling gives the women critical leverage in pursuing the case under the state’s Equal Pay Act.
“This case will help ensure that women are paid fairly at Oracle, and we hope, throughout the tech industry,” Jim Finberg, a lawyer representing the women, said in an email.
Women at technology companies who have turned to the courts to transform their pay and treatment in the workplace have faced difficulty gaining traction, just like their female counterparts in more traditional industries, from retail to finance. The
Female engineers at both
”Courts seem hesitant to certify classes alleging gender discrimination more broadly,” said Jason Lohr, a lawyer who has filed such suits. “Fortunately, the California legislature has made it easier to bring class-wide claims based upon pay disparities. While not a perfect way to resolve gender inequality in the workplace, it’s progress.”
The case against Oracle was filed by former company engineer Sue Petersen and two other women, all of whom worked at PeopleSoft Corp. before it was acquired by Oracle in 2005.
They claim that Oracle for years has paid women less than men for “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.” To bolster their bid for class-action status, the plaintiffs emphasized that company-wide compensation is determined at Oracle’s headquarters in Redwood Shores, California.
Oracle argued that the lawsuit wrongly compares women and men tagged with the same job codes even though such coding doesn’t mean the work requires similar skills, effort or responsibility, because Oracle’s products and services vary so widely.
Relying on the codes doesn’t “account for the tools or programming languages an employee must master, the hours her work requires, or the number and complexity of the sub-areas of a product for which she is responsible,” the company said in a court filing.
In a separate ruling, Swope dealt Oracle another blow when he refused to toss out a study, commissioned by the plaintiffs, that found women at the company earned 13% less than their male counterparts. The study was done by a UC-Irvine economics professor
“Professor Neumark had a reasonable basis for his opinions that education, years of prior job experience, tenure at Oracle, and performance review scores do not explain the gender pay gap faced by women in the same job code as men,” the judge wrote.
Oracle is also
The case is Jewett v. Oracle America Inc., 17-CIV-02669, California Superior Court, County of San Mateo (Redwood City).
(Updates with company comment in fourth paragraph.)
--With assistance from
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Joe Schneider, Peter Blumberg
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.