Female Apple Employees File Gender Pay Discrimination Class Action

Cohen Milstein

June 13, 2024

Lead plaintiffs represent a potential class of more than 12,000 women in Apple’s engineering, marketing, and AppleCare divisions in California.

Women claim that Apple systematically relies on pay expectation and prior pay information before joining Apple, to pay them less than male employees who perform substantially similar work.

San Francisco, CA – Today, plaintiff-side powerhouses Altshuler Berzon, Cohen Milstein, and Outten & Golden filed a class action gender pay discrimination lawsuit against Apple Inc. in San Francisco Superior Court. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two female employees, claims Apple violated California’s Equal Pay Act and Fair Employment and Housing Act by systematically paying women lower wages than male employees who perform substantially similar work.

The women, who represent more than 12,000 current and former female employees in Apple’s engineering, marketing, and AppleCare divisions in California, also claim that Apple, which is headquartered in Cupertino and has an office in San Francisco, maintains a centrally determined and uniformly applied policy and/or practice of paying its female employees less than male employees for substantially similar work. Finally, they claim that the tech giant knows or should have known about these substantial pay disparities and has yet to take any action to remedy the inequality.

“One day, I saw a W-2 left on the office printer. It belonged to my male colleague, who has the same job position. I noticed that he was being paid almost $10,000 more than me, even though we performed substantially similar work. This revelation made me feel terrible,” said Justina Jong, a Customer/Technical Training Instructor on Apple’sWorldwide Developer Relations/App Review team.

Specifically, the women claim that before the fall of 2017, Apple asked job candidates for prior pay information and, when that practice became unlawful in January 2018, Apple continued to inquire about prior pay under the guise of candidates’ pay expectations. Apple used this information to set starting salaries, resulting in lower pay rates for women than for men who perform substantially similar work.

“Apple has systematically and willfully paid women in California lower compensation than men with similar education and experience by tracking them into lower starting salaries,” said Joseph Sellers, partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC. “Even if Apple no longer asks for specific prior pay data, asking them for pay expectations is basically the same thing. Apple’s policy and practice of collecting such information about pay expectations and using that information to set starting salaries has had a disparate impact on women, and Apple’s failure to pay women and men equal wages for performing substantially similar work is simply not justified under the law.”

The women also claim that Apple’s performance evaluation system is biased against women for scored categories, such as teamwork and leadership, which typically reward men and penalize women. They further claim this bias has a direct impact on women’s bonuses, restricted stock units, and pay increases at Apple, thereby furthering the disparate impact and widening the pay gap.

“This is a no-win situation for female employees at Apple,” said Eve Cervantez, a partner at Altshuler Berzon. “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.”

“Unfortunately, it seems that our clients have been paid unfairly from the moment they were hired, and that pay gap has only widened over time” said Chauniqua Young, a partner at Outten & Golden LLP. “We look forward to fighting for their rights, and those of thousands of other women who have been affected by Apple’s pay practices.”

As a result of Apple’s unlawful pay policies and/or practices, the women claim that all putative class members have been denied compensation legally owed to them for work performed since 2020, and are entitled to wages and other compensation due, interest, and liquidated damages. In addition to damages, the women also seek declaratory and injunctive relief.

The plaintiffs are represented by James Finberg and Eve Cervantez of Altshuler Berzon LLP, Joseph Sellers and Phoebe Wolfe of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and Adam Klein and Chauniqua Young of Outten & Golden LLP.


About Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, a premier U.S. plaintiffs’ law firm, with over 100 attorneys across eight offices, champions the causes of real people—workers, consumers, small business owners, investors, and whistleblowers—working to deliver corporate reforms and fair markets for the common good. We have litigated landmark civil rights and employment disputes before the highest courts in the nation and continue to actively shape civil rights and employment law in the United States.

About Altshuler Berzon

Altshuler Berzon LLP is a California law firm dedicated to providing the highest quality representation in the service of economic justice and the public interest. We represent labor unions, workers, consumers, environmental groups, other public interest organizations, and public entities. We specialize in labor and employment, constitutional, environmental, civil rights, class action, campaign and election, and impact litigation, at both the trial and appellate levels.

About Outten & Golden

Outten & Golden LLP is the largest U.S. law firm dedicated to the representation of employees. With offices in New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, the firm has taken on many of the country’s largest and most powerful employers, forging landmark settlements and historic verdicts that contribute to a more equitable workplace. As a mission-driven firm, O&G uses litigation and other means to expand the rights of all employees to fair wages and working conditions, and a workplace free of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.