US tech-giant Qualcomm to pay US$19.5m to settle gender discrimination lawsuit

The company has struck a deal to settle accusations of 'systemic gender discrimination'

Qualcomm Technologies, the US chip-making giant, has agreed to pay US$19.5m (SG$26.3m) to settle claims that they discriminated against female employees by paying them less and denying them the same promotion opportunities as men.

The deal, which is still subject to approval from a federal judge, was struck before legal papers were filed at a San Diego court on Tuesday, according to media reports.

The agreement stipulates that Qualcomm, which has around 15,000 employees in the US, must implement policies to ensure that women in science and engineering positions get more promotion opportunities.

The lawsuit claims that women face “systemic gender discrimination” at the company, and that women working in research and engineering positions are paid less than men for the same roles.

Females also make up only 15% of senior leadership and are promoted less often, possibly due to the fact that managers are mostly male, Associated Press reported.

The complaint also alleges that workers who stay late are rewarded over those who work their stipulated hours, and that the company discourages employees from taking leave, meaning working mothers are at a disadvantage when it comes to career development.

Lawyers for the group described the settlement as a "giant leap forward toward levelling the playing field and can serve as a model of best practices for other technology companies,” Associated Press reported.

Qualcomm said it will try to level the playing field for women going forward, including hiring independent consultants and an internal compliance officer, increasing training, and conducting regular pay-equity and promotion analysis.

“Qualcomm is committed to treating its employees fairly and equitably,” Christine Trimble, vice president of public affairs at Qualcomm, said in a statement Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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