Snap will pay $15 million to settle California lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination

The company, however, denies it has a problem with gender-based pay gap and harassment.

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The California Civil Rights Department has revealed that Snap Inc. has agreed to pay $15 million to settle the lawsuit it filed "over alleged discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against women at the company." California's civil rights agency started investigating the company behind Snapchat over three years ago due to claims that it discriminated and retaliated against female employees. The agency accused the company of failing the make sure that female employees were paid equally despite a period of rapid growth between 2015 to 2022.

Women, especially those in engineering roles, were allegedly discouraged to apply for promotions and lost them to less qualified male colleagues when they did. The agency said that they also had to endure unwelcome sexual advances and faced retaliation when they spoke up. Female employees were given negative performance reviews, were denied opportunities and, ultimately, were terminated.

"In California, we’re proud of the work of our state’s innovators who are a driving force of our nation’s economy," CRD Director Kevin Kish said in a statement. "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."

Snapchat denies that the company has an issue with pay inequality and sexual discrimination. In a statement sent to Politico and Bloomberg, it says it only decided to settle due to the costs and impact of a lengthy litigation. "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. While we disagreed with the California Civil Rights Department's claims and analyses, we took into consideration the cost and impact of lengthy litigation, and the scope of the CRD’s other settlements, and decided it is in the best interest of the company to resolve these claims and focus on the future," the company explains.

Under the settlement terms, which still have to be approved by a judge, $14.5 million of the total amount will go towards women who worked as employees at Snap Inc. in California between 2014 and 2024. The company will also be required to have a third-party monitor audit its sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination compliance.

California's Civil Rights Department was the same agency that sued Activision Blizzard in 2021 and accused the company of fostering a "frat boy" culture that encouraged rampant misogyny and sexual harassment. The agency also found that women in the company were overlooked for promotions and were paid less than their male colleagues. It settled with the video game developer in late 2023 for $54 million, though it had to withdraw its claims that there was widespread sexual harassment at the company.