The US Department of Labor is accusing Google of “extreme” and “systemic” pay discrimination against its female employees, the Guardian reports, alleging in federal court that the department’s office of federal contract compliance programs had turned up evidence of such discrimination as part of a compliance review:
“We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,” Janette Wipper, a DoL regional director, testified in court in San Francisco on Friday. …
Labor officials detailed the government’s discrimination claims against Google at the Friday hearing while making the case for why the company should be forced to comply with the DoL’s requests for documents. Wipper said the department found pay disparities in a 2015 snapshot of salaries and said officials needed earlier compensation data to evaluate the root of the problem and needed to be able to confidentially interview employees.
Google strongly disputed the allegations, insisting that it had investigated its own pay practices internally and found no gender gap at all:
In a statement to the Guardian, Google said: “We vehemently disagree with [Wipper’s] claim. Every year, we do a comprehensive and robust analysis of pay across genders and we have found no gender pay gap. Other than making an unfounded statement which we heard for the first time in court, the DoL hasn’t provided any data, or shared its methodology.”
The department has sued several major tech companies, also including Palantir and Oracle, over alleged race- or gender-based discrimination in pay recently, the Guardian adds.
The claim against Google comes at a time when Silicon Valley is reeling from multiple public allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination that have thrust its gender diversity challenges into the spotlight. Google’s most recent diversity report, issued last summer, showed that women made up 31 percent of its workforce and 21 percent of new hires in technical roles in 2015.
During the tenure of former President Barack Obama, the Labor Department became more aggressive in pursuing companies for violating federal nondiscrimination laws. Last October, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it would begin collecting summary pay data from organizations with more than 100 employees in March 2018, showing what employees of each gender, race, and ethnicity earn. This new regulation, however, is among the many Obama-era policies his successor Donald Trump is expected to scuttle.