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Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco
December 4, 2017, Decided; December 4, 2017, Filed
Case No. CGC-17-561299
ORDER SUSTAINING DEFENDANT GOOGLE INC.'S DEMURRER TO PLAINTIFFS' CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
Defendant Google Inc. ("Google") demurred to Plaintiffs Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelly Wisuri's ("Plaintiffs") Class Action Complaint ("Complaint") pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure sections 430.10(e) and (f). The demurrer came on for hearing on December 1, 2017, and appearances are as noted in the record. Having considered the materials submitted in support and opposition and the oral argument of counsel, the Court concludes, for the reasons stated below, that the demurrer should be sustained in its entirety with leave to amend.
Plaintiffs Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri are former female employees of Google who worked as a software engineer, business systems manager, and sales specialist, respectively. Complaint PP 8-10. They filed this action on behalf of themselves and a class consisting of "all women employed by Google in California," alleging that Google violated California's Equal Pay Act by paying female employees lower compensation than Google pays to male employees performing substantially similar work. Id. PP 2, 21. The Complaint [*2] alleges that Google has maintained throughout California a "centrally determined and uniformly applied policy and/or practice of paying its female employees less than male employees for substantially equal or similar work." Id. P 17. Paragraph 3 of plaintiffs' Complaint highlights three distinct theories of liability: (1) "by paying female employees less than male employees with similar skills, experience, and duties;" (2) "by assigning and keeping women in job ladders and levels with lower compensation ceilings and advancement opportunities than those to which men with similar skills, experience, and duties are assigned and kept;" and (3) "by promoting fewer women and promoting women more slowly than it has promoted similarly-qualified men." Id. P 3. The Complaint also alleges how Google violated the Equal Pay Act with respect to each of the named plaintiffs specifically. See id. PP 28-36 (Ellis); PP 37-44 (Pease); PP 45-49 (Wisuri). The Complaint also references an analysis performed by the United States Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs ("OFCCP"), which allegedly found that with regard to Google's Mountain View office for the year 2015, there were [*3] "systematic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce." Id. P 13. Based on these allegations, the Complaint asserts the following causes of action: (1) Violation of the California Equal Pay Act (on behalf of Plaintiffs Pease and Wisuri, and the putative class); (2) Violation of Labor Code §§ 201-203 (on behalf of Plaintiffs Pease and Wisuri, and the putative class) (3) Violation of Business and Professions Code §17200 et seq. (on behalf of all plaintiffs and the putative class); and (4) declaratory judgment (on behalf of all plaintiffs and the putative class).
Google now demurs to plaintiffs' class allegations on the ground that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege a well-defined community of interest. Google also demurs to Plaintiffs Ellis and Wisuri's individual claims on the ground that the "substantially similar" legal standard was made effective after Plaintiffs Ellis and Wisuri terminated their employment with Google, and they failed to adequately state a claim under the standard in effect at the time of their employment. As discussed further below, the Court sustains the demurrer in its entirety with leave to amend.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2017 Cal. Super. LEXIS 2694 *
KELLY ELLIS, HOLLY PEASE, and KELLI WISURI, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. GOOGLE, INC., Defendant.
Prior History: Ellis v. Goggle, Inc., 2017 Cal. Super. LEXIS 6202 (Cal. Super. Ct., Oct. 2, 2017)
allegations, demurrer, Pay Act, leave to amend, plaintiffs', substantially similar, cause of action, female employee, class action, certification, paying, community of interest, employees, software, demurs, male