Why the gender pay bias lawsuit against Google is a "big deal"

A new class-action lawsuit filed by three former Google employees Thursday accuses the company of pay discrimination against women. In response, Google said, "We disagree with the central allegations, and we have extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly."

CBS News contributor and editor-in-chief of Wired magazine Nicholas Thompson joined "CBS This Morning" from San Francisco to discuss the significance of the lawsuit and how this could change how Google operates. 

"I think it is something that a lot of people in Silicon Valley both feel about Google and a lot of the other tech companies," Thompson said. "There are general accusations that it is very hard to be a woman in Silicon Valley."

Google says it avoids gender bias through rigorous hiring and promotion committees.

"This particular lawsuit itself is also a big deal. It covers all women who worked at Google over the last four years so if Google loses that's a big payout. Even if they don't lose and it settles it's going to be a continuing public perception problem for Google and may make it harder for them to attract and retain qualified women who they certainly need," Thompson said.  

The company's employee demographics show that women make up only about 20 percent of tech positions.

Asked how this suit could spur changes at Google, Thompson said, "They can change their hiring practices. They can say 'OK, so why is it that we end up -- even if it's unconscious -- why do we put women on career tracks that don't go as far?'" Thompson said.

Thompson said while Google has taken some steps to address these issues, it's not enough. 

"They don't tell the people determining someone's salary the gender of the person. So they've actually made conscious steps to try to alleviate this problem but clearly based on the data that we've seen and based on the allegations in this lawsuit, they have not done enough."