Google at war with US Department of Labor over pay gap
Google headquarters. Image: achinthamb/Shutterstock

Google at war with US Department of Labor over pay gap

11 Apr 2017

Google is painting a very different picture to the one portrayed by the US Department of Labor with regard to the company’s gender pay gap.

Last week, on Equal Pay Day, Google announced that it had closed the gender pay gap globally.

Three days later, the Department of Labor (DoL) said it had evidence of monetary disparity between men and women in Google.

The tech giant has responded to the DoL claims by releasing its pay methodology, which company officials describe as “blind” when it comes to gender. They can’t both be right.

According to The Guardian, DoL regional director Janette Wipper said: “We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.”

The comments were made during a hearing as part of a lawsuit, which was filed when Google failed to comply with a routine audit earlier this year.

Google said it refused to turn over the request for privacy reasons, triggering the DoL to take the company to court in order to retrieve the information.

Presented with DoL claims that discrimination against women in the company is “quite extreme”, Google has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Google fights back

In a statement released on Google’s blog today, Eileen Naughton, vice-president of people operations, said: “Google conducts rigorous, annual analyses so that our pay practices remain aligned with our commitment to equal pay practices.”

Naughton said the analysis used is extremely scientific, robust and blind to gender.

It is explicitly outlined in the statement: first, an employee’s compensation is suggested based on experience, job level, job location and performance ratings. The employee’s manager can adjust these slightly, subject to sufficient reasoning and rationale.

The compensation is then held up against other employees in the same categories to confirm there are no discrepancies between genders.

“Our analysis gives us confidence that there is no gender pay gap at Google,” said Naughton.

With both sides claiming to have strong evidentiary support, it now comes down to the specific data Google is measuring, compared to the DoL.

This isn’t the first time that the DoL has challenged a tech company over discriminatory practices with female employees. In January of this year, it sued Oracle over alleged pay discrepancies based on gender and race.

Google headquarters. Image: achinthamb/Shutterstock

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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