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DOL Sues Google Over Failure to Provide Compensation Data

The Department of Labor (DOL) is asking an administrative law judge to order the company to turn over information on job and salary history for employees…

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The Department of Labor (DOL) is asking an administrative law judge to order the company to turn over information on job and salary history for employees including starting salary, starting position, starting job level and other “snapshot” information from Sept. 1 2014 and Sept. 2015 along with names and contact information for employees.

The department said that “unless restrained by an administrative order, Google will continue to violate its obligations.” It requested that the administrative law judge compel Google to comply, or else issue an order cancelling the company’s contracts and subcontracts and barring the company from entering into future contracts.

In response to the claims, Google said in an emailed statement that it did not reveal the data because of the belief that requests were too broad, and asked for confidential information.

The DOL did not immediately provide comment on the suit, but in a statement, OFCCP Acting Director Thomas M. Dowd said that Google had “many opportunities” to produce pay data voluntarily. “We filed this lawsuit so we can obtain the information we need to complete our evaluation,” he said.

In an emailed statement provided by a spokesperson, Google said it has “worked hard to comply” with the compliance program office’s current audit and provided “hundreds of thousands of records” in the last year.

“However, the handful of OFCCP requests that are the subject of the complaint are overbroad in scope, or reveal confidential data, and we’ve made this clear to the OFCCP, to no avail,” the statement said. “These requests include thousands of employees’ private contact information which we safeguard rigorously.”

The labor department complaint comes amid heightened scrutiny of Silicon Valley employment practices. In recent years, some high-tech corporations have been criticized for employing disproportionately low numbers of African-Americans, Latinos and women. In September 2016, the labor department filed a lawsuit against Palantir Technologies, for example, accusing the company of systematically discriminating against Asian job applicants.

The Labor Department’s federal contract office informed Google in September 2015 that it had chosen the company’s Mountain View, California headquarters for a random audit, which the tech giant refused, according to the complaint.  The office asked for job and salary history from employees, under Executive Order 11246, which outlaws pay discrimination for federal contractors and requires them to permit the Labor Department to examine its books and records for compliance.

The complaint also cited the Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act and the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibit contractors from discriminating against veterans and the disabled, respectively.

Two Jackson Lewis partners, Matthew Camardella and Daniel Duff III confirmed that they are representing Google in the matter.

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Rebekah Mintzer writes for Corporate Counsel, our ALM sibling. She can be reached at rmintzer@alm.com.

The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of their clients or other attorneys in their firm.

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