Google Says It Has Closed The Gender Pay Gap. Feds Say No You Didn’t

Written by Dana Sanchez

Just days after Google claimed that it has closed the gender pay gap globally, the federal government disagreed, testifying in a San Francisco court that Google systematically pays women less than their male counterparts.

The U.S. Department of Labor wants Google, a federal contractor, to provide compensation data, according to a Guardian report:

As part of an ongoing investigation, the government has collected information that suggests the internet search giant is violating federal employment laws with its salaries for women, agency officials said.

“We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,” Janette Wipper, a Department of Labor regional director, testified in court in San Francisco on Friday.

Google began releasing diversity statistics in 2014 and reported in 2016 that women made up 31 percent of its overall workforce. Just 2 percent of workers were black and 3 percent Latino. White employees accounted for 59 percent of the U.S. workforce and Asians made up 32 percent.

As a federal contractor and one of the largest and most powerful companies in Silicon Valley, Google has to let the government inspect records relevant to its compliance with equal opportunity laws. The Department of Labor filed suit in January, seeking access to Google’s compensation data and related personnel records, Fortune reported.

The feds say Google refused to provide the required information. Google says it turned over “hundreds of thousands” of records and that the government’s requests are “overbroad in scope, or reveal confidential data,” according to TechCrunch.

Just 19 percent of Google’s tech jobs are filled by women, the Associated Press reported. Google and other technology companies say they’ve been trying to improve diversity in the workplace. Historically, most of their technical jobs have gone to white and Asian men. So far, that has not changed.

“The government’s analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry,” a Department of Labor solicitor told the Guardian.

The white male-dominated tech industry is facing increased scrutiny over gender discrimination, pay disparities and sexual harassment.


The Department of labor 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.

“We want to understand what’s causing the disparity,” Wipper said.

The government’s request is a “fishing expedition that has absolutely no relevance to the compliance review,” said Lisa Barnett Sween, a Google’s attorney testifying in opening remarks, the Guardian reported. She said the request was an unconstitutional violation of the company’s Fourth Amendment rights to protection from unreasonable searches.

Google tweeted April 4 on Equal Pay Day the following:

 “We’re proud to share that we have closed the gender pay gap globally, and also provide equal pay across races in the U.S., according to our annual compensation analysis. At our re:Work site, we’re sharing sine if the lessons we’ve learned to help other businesses close the pay gap.”

Google isn’t the only tech firm facing a Labor Department lawsuit over employment practices. In September, the Department of Labot filed a lawsuit against Palantir, the Palo Alto data analytics company co-founded by Peter Thiel, an advisor to President Donald Trump. It alleges Palantir systematically discriminated against Asian job applicants in its hiring process. Palantir denied the accusations, the Guardian reported:

In recent months, there has been uncertainty about the future of these kinds of aggressive Department of Labor enforcement efforts under Trump. The president has rolled back Obama-era protections for female workers, and some DoL staffers have raised concerns that the new administration will not embrace the agency’s core mission of supporting workers’ rights. An Oracle executive also joined Trump’s transition team.

In the Google case, the Labor Department’s lawyers have asked the court to cancel all of the company’s federal contracts and block any future business with the government if it continues to refuse to comply with the audit.




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