US technology giant Apple has been accused of underpaying its female employees in California in comparison with men in similar roles

More than 12,000 female employees in the engineering, marketing and AppleCare divisions are paid less than their male equivalents, the lawsuit filed in a state court in San Francisco has revealed. 

The plaintiffs, two women with more than a decade of experience at Apple, claim the company’s pay practices are biased against female workers. 

Class action law firms Outten & Golden, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and Altshuler Berzon are backing the plaintiffs.  

The lawsuit, which is seeking unspecified damages and penalties, accused Apple of violating California’s Equal Pay Act and Fair Employment and Housing Act. 

The complaint suggests that Apple’s method of determining starting pay, which is based on previous salaries or “pay expectations,” contributes to lower pay rates for women.  

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The lawsuit points out that despite California’s ban on salary history inquiries since 2018, Apple’s reliance on pay expectations effectively perpetuates wage disparities.  

The plaintiffs also argue that Apple’s “talent” designation, which often results in higher pay, is disproportionately awarded to men.  

The lawsuit criticises Apple’s performance evaluation system, alleging it is skewed against women when determining raises and bonuses.  

Eve Cervantez, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs and a partner at Altshuler Berzon, said that Apple’s practices exacerbate the gender pay gap.  

Cervantez stated: “This is a no-win situation for female employees at Apple. Once women are hired into a lower pay range at Apple, subsequent pay raises or any bonuses are tracked accordingly, meaning they don’t correct the gender pay gap. Instead, they perpetuate and widen the gap because raises and bonuses are based on a percentage of the employee’s base salary.” 

Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, California, has responded by asserting its commitment to inclusion and pay equity. 

The company’s statement, quoted by Reuters, read: “Since 2017, Apple has achieved and maintained gender pay equity and every year we partner with an independent third-party expert to examine each team member’s total compensation and make adjustments, where necessary, to ensure that we maintain pay equity.”