Google Assistant Contractors Reportedly Complain About Being Underpaid

Initially released in 2016, Google Assistant is an artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant developed by Google. It is available on mobile and smart home devices.

Most of the staff working on Pygmalion, the team responsible for producing linguistic data sets that make Google Assistant work, have been pressured to work unpaid overtime for years, The Guardian reports, citing current and former employees who spoke to the paper on condition of anonymity.

The employees also said that temporary workers, who are hired by staffing firms and not directly by Google, and the company’s full-time employees are treated unequally in terms of payment and working conditions.

Some of those who spoke to The Guardian about the situation with alleged wage theft said they decided to talk to the press after their efforts to discuss the issue in the company were ignored.

Google says it has launched an investigation into allegations made by some of the Pygmalion team.

“Our policy is clear that all temporary workers must be paid for any overtime worked”, said Eileen Naughton, Google’s vice president of people operations, in a statement to The Guardian. “If we find that anyone isn’t properly paid, we make sure they are compensated appropriately and take action against any Google employee who violates this policy”.

The spokeswoman added that complaints about unpaid overtime were also reported to the company’s human resources in 2017, but after an investigation no such cases were confirmed at the time.

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