The US Department of Labor (DoL) is suing Google over findings that the company routinely pays female employees less than their male counterparts, reports The Guardian.
The government agency noted at a hearing before a federal judge in San Francisco last Friday that it “found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce” at the company. It pointed to pay disparities in salaries from 2015 and has demanded that the company the company disclose additional records to aid in the investigation.
Speaking to The Guardian, DoL regional solicitor Janet Herold said that the probe is still underway, and that the agency has “received compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters.”
She added: “The government’s analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry.”
However, Google disagreed with the claim and said that the agency hadn’t shared any data or disclosed what methodology it used to come to this conclusion.
As a federal contractor, Google is required to allow the DoL to check its records for compliance with equal opportunity laws. The agency has locked horns with the company over a request for such data from last year, with Google claiming that it had already handed over plenty of data but refused to hand over more information that’s necessary to proceed with the investigation.
Last week, Google announced in a tweet that it had closed the pay gap for all roles within its organization’s operations across the globe. Given that and the fact that all eyes are on the tech industry to learn which firms are engaging in unlawful and discriminatory practices (see Uber and Tesla), it’d be surprising to learn that the company would be obtuse enough to allow managers to award women with lower salaries than men in 2017.
— Google (@Google) April 4, 2017
It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out in the coming days. We will update this post if we hear of further developments.
Update (April 12): Google noted in a blog post that it doesn’t discriminate between genders when allocating salaries, and doesn’t allow hiring managers to view applicants’ gender data when they’re recommending salaries. It also reviews salaries across various groups to assess whether there’s a disparity in what people of different genders are being paid, and adjusts to bring compensation in line.
Each year, we suggest an amount for every employee’s new compensation (consisting of base salary, bonus and equity) based on role, job level, job location as well as current and recent performance ratings. This suggested amount is “blind” to gender; the analysts who calculate the suggested amounts do not have access to employees’ gender data. An employee’s manager has limited discretion to adjust the suggested amount, providing they cite a legitimate adjustment rationale.