Google Sued By the Department of Labor For Refusal to Submit Compensation Data

On January 4, 2017, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) filed a lawsuit against the tech mega-giant Google for its refusal to submit compensation data for its employees as part of a compliance review. The complaint alleges that Google repeatedly refused to provide specific compensation data about its employees.

The request, which was issued by the OFCCP under Executive Order 11246, asks Google to provide job and salary history for employees which includes a variety of employee-specific data, including “starting salary, starting position, starting ‘compara-ratio,’ starting job code, starting job family, starting job level, starting organization” and any changes to these figures that the employees had experienced from Sept. 1 2014 and Sept. 2015. It also requests that Google be ordered to turn over names and contact information for these employees. The lawsuit alleges that Google refused to voluntarily provide this information on several occasions and now the OFCCP seeks an order compelling Google to turn over the compensation data.

This lawsuit is a significant indicator of the OFCCP’s increased interest and enforcement efforts in examining federal contractors’ compensation practices. The OFCCP authority to compel Google and other covered federal contractors to provide compensation data for its employees emanates from Executive Order 11246, an executive order which prohibits pay discrimination by federal contractors.

The lawsuit isn’t the OFCCP’s first crack at the tech industry, as recently the DOL has been engaged in enforcement efforts over several technology companies in Silicon Valley and around the country. In October 2016, the OFCCP filed a lawsuit against a Massachusetts technology manufacturer, Analogic, alleging that its compensation policies resulted in systemic discrimination against women in certain positions. Just one month prior, the agency filed a lawsuit against Palantir Technologies in Silicon Valley accusing the company of systematically discriminating against Asian job applicants.

Even in the waning days of the Obama Administration, rooting out compensation discrimination continues to be an important area of focus. In 2016, the Obama Administration unveiled several new initiatives in this regard. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the EEO-1 report will be revised to include expanded information on pay data and hours worked beginning with the 2017 report, which will be due on March 31, 2018.

It remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will continue to press forward with this compensation initiative. The most recent OFCCP Director in the Obama Administration, Pat Shiu, left the office in the days following the election. Tom Dowd is currently serving as the “Interim Acting Director.” The Trump Administration, including the new Department of Labor Secretary, will have the power to shake up the agency and the direction it takes with enforcement. It is likely that pay equity will remain a priority under the Trump Administration.

As the Trump Administration takes hold in the new year, Gentry Locke will continue to track developments in the policy of the OFCCP and DOL as they unfold. If you have any questions about government contract issues or any other employment issues, please contact one of the members of Gentry Locke’s Employment Law Team.

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