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Snap Settles California Lawsuit for $15 Million Over Gender Discrimination Claims

ByHuey Yee Ong

Jun 24, 2024

Snap Settles California Lawsuit for $15 Million Over Gender Discrimination Claims

Snap Inc. has consented to pay $15 million to settle allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against female employees, as announced by the California Civil Rights Department (CRD).

This settlement follows a prolonged investigation by California’s civil rights agency into the tech company known for developing Snapchat. Despite agreeing to the settlement, Snap denies any ongoing issues with gender-based pay gaps and harassment within its operations.

The Root of the Allegations

The investigation by the CRD began over three years ago when allegations surfaced that Snap engaged in discriminatory practices against female employees, particularly during a significant expansion phase from 2015 to 2022.

The agency accused Snap of:

  • Failing to ensure equal pay for female employees
  • Discouraging women, especially in engineering roles, from applying for promotions
  • Frequently overlooking female applicants for promotions in favor of less qualified male colleagues

Furthermore, the CRD’s complaints included claims of unwelcome sexual advances towards female staff. Women who reported such incidents allegedly faced retaliation, which included negative performance evaluations, denial of career opportunities, and in some cases, termination of employment. These actions, the CRD argued, constituted a violation of California’s civil rights laws that protect workers from discrimination and ensure equal opportunity in the workplace.

California’s Stand on Civil Rights

CRD Director Kevin Kish commented on the settlement, underscoring the importance of California’s civil rights laws in protecting workers and promoting equality. “In California, we’re proud of the work of our state’s innovators who are a driving force of our nation’s economy,” Kish stated.

He further emphasized, “We’re also proud of the strength of our state’s civil rights laws, which help ensure every worker is protected against discrimination and has an opportunity to thrive. This settlement with Snapchat demonstrates a shared commitment to a California where all workers have a fair chance at the American Dream. Women are entitled to equality in every job, in every workplace, and in every industry.”

Why Did Snap Decide to Settle?

In response, Snap articulated that its decision to settle was not an admission of guilt but rather a strategic move to avoid the burdens of a lengthy litigation process.

The company conveyed through statements to Politico and Bloomberg that it remains committed to maintaining a fair and inclusive work environment. “We care deeply about our commitment to maintain a fair and inclusive environment at Snap, and do not believe we have any ongoing systemic pay equity, discrimination, harassment, or retaliation issues against women,” the company asserted. Snap also noted that settling was considered the best course of action given the potential costs and distractions of protracted legal proceedings.

The terms of the settlement stipulate that $14.5 million of the total settlement amount will be allocated to women who were employed by Snap Inc. in California from 2014 to 2024. Additionally, Snap will be required to submit to audits by a third-party monitor to assess and ensure compliance with laws concerning sexual harassment, retaliation, and discrimination.

This case mirrors a similar action taken by the CRD against Activision Blizzard in 2021, where the agency sued the video game developer over allegations of fostering a “frat boy” culture that was hostile to female employees.

The lawsuit, which settled for $54 million in late 2023, also included claims that women were systematically overlooked for promotions and received less compensation compared to their male counterparts, although the CRD eventually retracted its allegations of pervasive sexual harassment.

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Featured Image courtesy of Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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