Qualcomm Gender Discrimination Class Action

Case name: Dandan Pan, et al. v. Qualcomm Inc., et al.

Case type: Gender Discrimination

Filed in: [U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California]

Docket: [Case No.: Cl16CV1885 JLS DHB]

Case Summary

On July 26, 2016, Sanford Heisler Sharp reached a $19.5 million pre-suit settlement agreement with Qualcomm Incorporated on behalf of a class of approximately 3300 women in a gender discrimination class action lawsuit. As part of the settlement process, plaintiffs were required to file the class Complaint and move for preliminary approval of the agreement in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Headquartered in San Diego, Ca., defendant Qualcomm Technologies Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc., is a leading developer and supplier of integrated circuits and system software for use in voice and data communications, networking, application processing, multi-media and global positioning system products.

The plaintiff class representatives were seven current or former Qualcomm employees working in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (“STEM”), and related employees. They alleged systemic gender and pregnancy discrimination in pay and promotions, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act the Equal Pay Act, and California law. The class sought both monetary relief and programmatic reform, alleging that female STEM employees received less in compensation than their male counterparts performing identical or substantially similar work. The Complaint also alleged that Qualcomm maintained a policy that disparately impacted and penalized caregivers of school-aged children, and that women represented generally smaller proportions of each successive rung of Qualcomm’s corporate hierarchy.

The settlement was the product of extensive pre-suit analysis of Qualcomm’s employment and payroll data. In addition to making a non-reversionary payment of $19.5 million to settle all class claims, Qualcomm agreed to institute significant changes in its policies and practices to help eliminate gender disparities and foster equal employment opportunities going forward. The programmatic relief included:

  1. Retain two independent consultants who specialize in industrial organizational psychology to conduct a full assessment of Qualcomm’s policies and practices and recommend ways to make Qualcomm a more equitable workplace for women.
  2. Appoint an internal compliance official who, following the recommendations of the independent consultants, will ensure the company’s implementation of and continued compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement.
  3. Make a host of structural changes to advance Qualcomm’s commitment to equal evaluation, compensation, and promotion.