LinkedIn underpaid women in California, feds say. Now, company will pay $1.8 million

Richard Drew/AP
·2 min read

The professional networking service LinkedIn agreed to pay $1.8 million in back wages and interest to hundreds of female employees in California, the U.S. Department of Labor said in a news release.

The settlement comes after the agency accused the company of pay discrimination. An evaluation conducted by the Department of Labor found that LinkedIn underpaid 686 female workers in San Francisco and Sunnyvale from March 1, 2015, to March 1, 2017, the release said May 3.

Specifically, the Department of Labor said LinkedIn failed to comply with Executive Order 11246,” which says that U.S. government contractors can’t discriminate against employees on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Although the company agreed to the terms of the settlement, it denied paying female employees inconsistently.

“LinkedIn pays and has paid its employees fairly and equitably when comparing similar work,” the company said in a statement, adding that it conducts regular reviews and evaluations to make sure employees are being paid properly.

“Globally, for every $1.00 earned by men, our female employees earn $0.999,” the company said, citing a 2021 equal pay analysis. “In the US, our employees of color earn $1.00 for every $1.00 earned by our white employees.”

Under the terms of an agreement between the agency and LinkedIn, the company was ordered to:

  • Pay $1.8 million to the affected workers, who are in the engineering and marketing job family groups” in San Francisco and engineering and product job family groups” in Sunnyvale

  • Conduct a staff training program to ensure LinkedIn complies with non-discrimination rules

  • Conduct evaluations for the next three years to determine if the company’s pay practices are gender-neutral and make salary adjustments” if they’re not

LinkedIn said in the settlement agreement that its statistical models did not identify pay disparities” within the affected job groups that were “statistically and practically significant.”

However, the Labor Department said in the settlement agreement that it found significant pay disparities among the affected female LinkedIn employees “after controlling for legitimate explanatory factors.”

According to a 2021 internal diversity report, 54.3% of LinkedIn’s overall workforce is male and 45% is female. However, that number changes when looking at LinkedIn employees who specifically work in tech, rather than in non-tech or leadership roles – 73.8% of LinkedIn’s tech workforce is male, and 25.1% is female, the report said.

Current or former LinkedIn employees who think they may be owed compensation can learn more about the agreement on the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s website, the Labor Department said.

Sunnyvale is about 12 miles west of San Jose.

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