The Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Google to get the internet company to turn over compensation data on its employees. Filed with the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, the lawsuit seeks to enforce Google’s obligations to provide OFCCP with compensation data, documents, and requested information, as part of a routine audit into Google’s equal opportunity hiring practices. This is required because of the tech giant’s role as a federal contractor.
Reportedly, Google provides cloud computing services to various federal agencies and the military. Google is obligated to let the government access records that show its hiring doesn’t discriminate based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and more.
Google Could Be Denied Federal Contracts
“Like other federal contractors, Google has a legal obligation to provide relevant information requested in the course of a routine compliance evaluation,” said OFCCP Director Thomas M. Dowd, in a released statement.
The lawsuit accuses Google of repeatedly refusing to provide job and salary history details the government has requested for its employees. The Department of Labor is now requesting that a judge order Google to turn over information, including starting salary, starting position, starting job level, and other “snapshot” information, along with names and contact information for employees. If the company fails to comply, the Department of Labor will ask the court to cancel all of Google’s current government contracts and to debar the company from entering into future contracts.
According to The Recorder, a spokesperson for Google said the company 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,” the emailed statement said. “These requests include thousands of employees’ private contact information, which we safeguard rigorously.”
Silicon Valley’s Diversity Issue
The Department of Labor’s lawsuit comes on the heels of the heightened scrutiny of Silicon Valley’s employment practices and the lack of diversity at major tech companies in recent years.
The participation of minorities in the region is abysmal. Research shows—whether it is within the Silicon Valley workforce, venture capitalist circles, or among founders of tech startups—African Americans, Latinos, and women have had a hard time penetrating the world of innovation, which is run mostly by white men. For this reason, Black Enterprise launched its annual TechConeXt Summit two years ago, to help advance entrepreneurs and career professionals within Silicon Valley’s tech community.
Google recently announced that it was launching a lab targeting a new generation of African American and Hispanic computer engineers. The lab’s focus is developing STEM skills in students of color.