As part of its Member Spotlight series, Public Justice recently sat down with Lieff Cabraser partners Anne Shaver and Michelle Lamy to discuss their roles in the groundbreaking Google gender discrimination class action brought on behalf of more than 15,000 female Google employees in California. In October 2022, final approval was granted to a $118 million settlement in the case, which in addition to the cash payout includes a mandate that Google accept third-party monitoring in order to ensure equitable treatment of its employees going forward. The settlement further includes additional measures to facilitate policy and practice changes at Google.
Below is an excerpt from the interview:
How did you get involved with the Google gender equity class action?
Michelle Lamy: I love that question, in particular for this case. When we investigated and filed this case in 2017, I was in my first year of practice. It’s the first case that I’ve seen from start to finish, and in many ways, it was the case that I came into my own as a litigator and as an advocate.
[My involvement] was the result of Kelly Dermody and Anne Shaver at [Lieff Cabraser] responding to my requests to get involved with our civil rights practice, specifically our anti-discrimination practice, and bringing me into the fold since the very beginning. I helped to work up the complaint, helped to file it, and have been involved in the case at every step of the way through settlement. To be part of making such good law so early in my career has been an honor.
Anne Shaver: My recollection is that a former partner of our law firm reached out to [Kelly] to say that they had heard from some women at Google, and invited us to interview them and talk about their experiences. We all joined together to interview several different people, and as we spoke with them, we started thinking, ‘Gosh there’s really a pattern here and this seems like this is appropriate for a class action,’ particularly with Google’s reliance on prior pay as a way of informing pay decisions because we know that has such a negative effect on women.
Were you preparing to go to trial?
ML: We were. We were supposed to be going to trial [in early 2023]. The parties came together to discuss the possibility of settlement earlier [in 2022] and ultimately resolved the case before we got too far along in the trial preparations. But we were gearing [up].
The full interview with Anne and Michelle is available here: