Tech Industry

Google sued by Labor Department over pay data

Web giant says it is withholding some information to protect its employees' privacy.

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Google is being sued by the Department of Labor for refusing to provide documents related to an anti-discrimination audit.

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The Department of Labor has sued Google to force the web giant to turn over compensation data as part of an anti-discrimination audit.

In an administrative law complaint filed Wednesday, the department says Google has withheld requested data and documents on compensation requested by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs as part of a routine compliance evaluation. The lawsuit (PDF) seeks to compel Google to comply with the review as required of federal contractor. If it doesn't, the suit requests cancellation of all current and future government contracts with Google.

The department emphasized that its request was routine and did not evolve from a suspicion of a specific case of discrimination.

"Despite many opportunities to produce this information voluntarily, Google has refused to do so," OFCCP Acting Director Thomas M. Dowd said in a statement. "We filed this lawsuit so we can obtain the information we need to complete our evaluation."

Google said it has turned over hundreds of thousands of documents to the department in the past year as part of the audit but has withheld some requested documents to protect the privacy of its employees.

"The handful of OFCCP requests that are the subject of the complaint are overbroad in scope, or reveal confidential data, and we've made this clear to the OFCCP, to no avail," Google said in a statement. "These requests include thousands of employees' private contact information which we safeguard rigorously. We hope to continue working with OFCCP to resolve this matter."

Federal law prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in hiring due to applicant's race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.

Like most large tech companies, Google continues to grapple with how to increase diversity in its workforce. Studies indicate that more-diverse teams, in terms of gender and race, show greater creativity and experimentation -- and get better results.