Google Faces Labor Department Lawsuit Over Pay Data

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By Chris Opfer

The Labor Department sued Google Inc. Jan. 4 to force the tech company to either turn over pay information on workers at its California headquarters or stop doing business with the government ( OFCCP v. Google, Inc. , Dep’t of Labor A.L.J., docket number not yet available, complaint filed 1/4/17 ).

The DOL wants Google to provide compensation data as part of an Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs audit. The OFCCP audits federal contractors—identified in a “neutral selection process”—to ensure compliance with pay discrimination regulations and other worker protections.

Google and Onix Networking in 2012 won an Interior Department cloud computing contract after suing the department to block it from giving the business to Microsoft Inc. The company also has a marketing contract with the General Services Administration.

The DOL is asking an administrative law judge to order Google to give the department a “snapshot” of compensation data, broken down by job code. That includes starting salary and position information, as well as “compa-ratios” based on industry averages.

“Like other federal contractors, Google has a legal obligation to provide relevant information requested in the course of a routine compliance evaluation,” Thomas Dowd, the OFCCP’s acting director, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “Despite many opportunities to produce this information voluntarily, Google has refused to do so. We filed this lawsuit so we can obtain the information we need to complete our evaluation.”

Company Calls Requests ‘Overbroad.’

Google rebuffed the DOL’s requests for the information as part of an audit of the company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters that started in September 2015. The department also wants the judge to cancel all of Google’s government contracts if it continues to refuse to provide the data.

A Google spokesman told Bloomberg BNA that the company hopes to work with the OFCCP to resolve the dispute.

“We’ve worked hard to comply with the OFCCP’s current audit and have provided hundreds of thousands of records over the last year, including those related to compensation,” the spokesman said. “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. These requests include thousands of employees’ private contact information, which we safeguard rigorously.”

Other tech employers including Microsoft and eBay Inc. have in recent years made very general pay information public. Both companies have said their women workers make about 99.8 cents for every dollar earned by male colleagues.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in Washington at copfer@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

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