The recommendation was made by administrative law judge Steve Berlin on 14 July 2017 after Google objected to providing the full spectrum of information that the OFCCP requested, arguing that it threatened employee privacy and the protection of their personal details.
Noting recent data breaches in US Office of Personnel Management and during the US presidential election, plus a recent ransomware attack at the Labour Department, the judge said that "the federal government generally and the Department of Labour in particular are not immune to hacking or to the improper release ('leaking') of confidential, private materials about people involved in departmental investigations".
One reason fixing gender pay gaps can be so hard for a company, according to McElhaney, is that focusing on compensation alone doesn't resolve the underlying reason women make less than men in the first place, which is bias against female employees.
Contact information from 8,000 employees is enough to meet the department's goal of having a large enough group "so that there's no way Google can sort of back-figure who we talked to and go after them", Herold said.
The OFCCP has previously gathered details such as name, date of birth, place of birth, citizenship, visa status, salary and stock grants for 21,114 Google employees as of September 1, 2015.
The Labor Department should move more slowly and deliberately with its investigation, Berlin added, rather than demanding data in bulk while offering "nothing credible or reliable to show that its theory [.is] anything more than speculation."
Google Inc. got a win Friday in its ongoing dispute with the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs over data on pay gaps between men and women at the company.
"Assuming the recommended decision becomes final, we'll comply with the remainder of the order, and provide the much more limited data set of information the judge approved, including the contact information for a smaller sample of up to 8,000 employees", Eileen Naughton, vice president of people operations at Google, said in a blog post.
The latest decision seems to be a middle way, with both the DoL and Google expressing their approval of the decision. "It is our job to see whether what they say they are doing is what they are actually doing". The Labor Department also has to limit the time frame for salary data it's collecting.
A judge ordered Google to give employee records to federal investigators examining the alleged "systematic" gender pay gap at the Internet company. Since Google has contracts with the USA government, the company is required to adhere to equal opportunity employment laws and has to let the Department of Labor inspect its records. Google, for example, self reports that women make up only 31% of its employees. If the company is found to have systemically paid women less than men, Google could lose government contracts. "And for applicants just out of school, the company doesn't negotiate starting pay at all", Berlin said.
The audit continues, and what the DoL discovers will reveal if Google is the rare utopia of a tech company without gender discrimination it claims to be. The judge apparently recognized this, criticizing OFCCP for its "persistent neglect of Google's employees' privacy". It'll be even more worrisome when a company with a less evident commitment to equal pay uses the same argument.