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Wednesday Worklaw Alert: Coinbase Strikes Again, Data Indicates Female and Black Employees are Underpaid

January 20th, 2021 Allison Frison

Coinbase, the cryptocurrency start-up based in San Francisco, has recently made headlines following accusations made by current and former employees alleging racial and gender discrimination in the workplace. As we discussed in our previous blog on Coinbase, “the company’s internal racial tensions escalated in the wake of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor’s deaths as several black employees in the tech industry demonstrated their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.” Female employees have also spoken out about their experience with the company, several of them filing internal complaints. Additionally, many employees have written negative reviews on Glassdoor, one of them notably claiming that “unconscious pro-male bias is out of control,” and warning women that “you’ll get paid less than your male colleagues, [and get] passed over for promotions.”

Recently, the New York Times released data that corroborates these accusations, showing that female and black employees were paid significantly less than their male and/or white counterparts. The article states that women were paid “an average of $13,000, or 8 percent, less than men at comparable jobs and ranks within the company.” Salaried black employees were paid “$11,500, or 7 percent, less than all other employees in similar jobs.” When Alexandra Marr, the economist who conducted the Coinbase analysis, factored in stock options as well, the pay gap between black and white employees grew from 7 percent to 11 percent. The article also provides a helpful graphic that illustrates these monetary disparities, which are compounded by the fact that most black and female employees are concentrated in lower-paying positions at the company. After reviewing Marr’s analysis, James Fineberg, a lawyer leading pay bias cases against Oracle and Google, commented, “This certainly looks like a company with a problem.” Our lawyers agree. 

Coinbase Response  

In response to these recent allegations, L.J. Brock, Coinbase’s Chief People Officer, stated that the company began a comprehensive review of compensation in late 2018. He elaborated, saying “As a result of this process, we implemented a new compensation program that brought Coinbase in line with some of the world’s most respected technology companies.” Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s Chief Executive Officer, claims he has made efforts to create a “consistent” company culture dedicated to growth. These efforts have not always sat well with employees, according to surveys and internal documents. For example, over 60 employees resigned this fall when Armstrong put a policy in place that banned employees from discussing non-company politics or social issues at work. Data also shows that Armstrong and other Coinbase executives failed to adequately address findings indicating a lack of diversity at the company. As stated by the NYT, “When the company last did an internal diversity report, in late 2019, the percentage of female and Black employees — 33 percent and 3 percent — at Coinbase was roughly the same as in 2018.” These statistics suggest that addressing issues of diversity is not a priority for Coinbase. 

Seek Legal Assistance Today 

If you are experiencing gender and/or racial discrimination in the workplace, seek legal assistance from the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City and Livingston, NJ. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.