Judge declares DOL's request for Google pay data 'unreasonable'
- Google does not have to turn over all requested employee compensation data to the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Program (OFCCP), an agency administrative law judge has ruled.
- DOL sued Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, in January for refusing to give the department access to its pay records so it could review them for possible gender discrimination. The judge approved some of the agency's requests but said that its demand for some salary histories dating back to 1998 was “unreasonable in that it is over-broad, intrusive on employee privacy, unduly burdensome, and insufficiently focused on obtaining the relevant information.”
- Google has defended its pay practices, saying that it turned over more than 1.7 million data points and 329,000 documents to meet the OFCCP's 18 requests during the past year, but stopped when the agency asked for information it viewed as excessive.
DOL requires federal contractors to provide information on recruiting, hiring and compensation, but employers are allowed to balance that requirement with the need to protect employees' privacy. The judge apparently recognized this, criticizing OFCCP for its "persistent neglect of Google’s employees’ privacy."
Google would likely have legal exposure to its employees if it unnecessarily revealed their private information, the judge noted. And at the very least, it would damage its relationship with its employees, its reputation as an employer and its ability to recruit and retain the best employees, he noted.
If OFCCP wants to correct pay practices, it doesn't need to look back to 1998, the judge concluded; "It can achieve the same ends going back far fewer years."
Employers can expect the judge's decision to stand, unless someone opposes it. Google said it plans to cooperate with OFCCP.