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How does class-action status help plaintiffs?

News out of California may have the higher-ups at Google a bit alarmed: Four women, all former employees, are now seeking class-action status for their gender discrimination claim against the tech mega-corporation.

According to the plaintiffs, Google routinely paid women employees less than men. An analyst estimated that men in similar positions to the women earned about $16,794 more than the women, via higher base salaries, better bonuses and more stock options.

Google already tried to squash the case before and failed. Now, the class certification hearing will decide the lawsuit’s future on Dec. 2. If the women are successful, the company stands to lose over $600 million in damages.

Why is class-action status worth having? Several reasons can prompt plaintiffs to go that route:

  • They realize that the company they are suing has greater resources than others. Class-action status permits plaintiffs and their attorneys to pool their resources to better pursue justice.
  • They realize that there are probably more victims out there who should be given a chance to make a claim. Class-action status opens the door to others who may not have suffered enough damages to make a lawsuit on their own worthwhile.
  • They realize that the publicity of a class-action suit may help their case. Companies sometimes decide that the negative press is more damaging than settling.

In addition, class actions make it easier for similarly situated claims against a defendant to move through the courts together. That eliminates a burden on the court, and it can mean a faster settlement for the victims.

If you think that you may have a class-action claim or you’ve suffered discrimination from an employer, find out more about how the process works.