United States government denied access to Google data in gender pay gap row

Marco Green
July 17, 2017

Google was ordered to give the U.S. government a 2014 snapshot of the wage data, along with contact information for thousands of its employees for possible interviews, said Judge Steve Berlin in a provisional ruling released in public on Sunday, according to the Guardian.

"Over the past year, in connection with this audit alone, we've provided more than 329,000 documents and more than 1.7 million data points, including detailed compensation information, in response to [Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs'] 18 different data requests", Naughton wrote in a blog post. Doing so would exceed the Labor Department's mandate, the court said, which is only able to investigate companies' compliance with federal affirmative action rules during the time shortly before, and during, their service as government contractors - which, in Google's case, began in 2007.

The Labor Department's investigation into the alleged Google wage gap was instigated after a routine contract audit revealed "extreme" gender discrimination in terms of pay, according to the Guardian.

The judge, however, denied the government's broader request for the full details of Google's 25,000 employees, saying the government did not explain convincingly why it needed extensive data on Google employees, including their name, address, telephone numbers and personal email addresses.

Since January, Google has resisted a demand by the Department of Labor that it share data - including the complete salary history and contact information for more than 21,000 employees - as part of a probe into potential "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce", the government previously has argued.

A spokesman did not immediately respond when asked to comment. The decision also added that OFCCP has not taken sufficient steps to learn how Google's systems work and may not have "accurately understood" them.

The judge found that the requested data was unduly burdensome and insufficiently focused on obtaining the relevant information.

"We were concerned that these requests went beyond the scope of what was relevant to this specific audit, and posed unnecessary risks to employees' privacy", she said. That information if provided to the government "could ease the efforts of malicious hackers or misdirected government employees", he said.

Eileen Naughton, Google vice president of people operations, said in a blog post dated Monday that Google has already provided more than 329,000 documents and more than 1.7 million data points, including detailed compensation information, in response to OFCCP's 18 different data requests.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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