Last Tuesday, Google issued a call to action on Twitter, declaring that every day should be Equal Pay Day and directing readers to a Google page with tips for implementing pay equity. The search engine also announced that it had closed its own gender pay gap.
Just three days later, Google was hit with a contradictory claim during a Labor Department hearing. According to The Guardian, the Labor Department says that Google violates federal employment laws by paying its female employees less than male employees.
In January, the government filed a lawsuit against Google, requiring the company to provide salary data. This isn't an unusual request: Because it is a federal contractor, Google is routinely required to prove that it complies with equal employment laws and does not discriminate based on race, disability, status as a protected veteran, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The problem, according to the Department of Labor, was Google's failure to turn over the necessary compensation data.
“Despite many opportunities to produce this information voluntarily, Google has refused to do so," said Thomas M. Dowd, acting director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, in a statement. "We filed this lawsuit so we can obtain the information we need to complete our evaluation.”
According to Reuters, a Google spokesperson said that information had been provided and that the government's requests were "overbroad in scope." However, if Google does not turn over the information, it runs the risk of losing its government contracts.
The hearing on Friday, where the Labor Department raised the issue of gender pay discrimination at Google, was held as part of the lawsuit. The Guardian reports that the Labor Department called the pay disparity among men and women "extreme," a claim that stands in sharp contrast to the pay equality that Google has spoken about previously.
A Google spokesperson denied the claims, saying, "We vehemently disagree with Ms. Wipper’s claim. Every year, we do a comprehensive and robust analysis of pay across genders and we have found no gender pay gap. Other than making an unfounded statement which we heard for the first time in court, the DoL hasn’t provided any data, or shared its methodology.”
We'll continue to update this piece as the investigation unfolds.