An administrative law judge on Friday ruled that the United States Department of Labor’s high-profile request for Google’s salary data was “burdensome” for the Alphabet-owned company and “intrusive” in the context of not respecting the privacy of the firm’s employees. The DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) made the initial request earlier this year, alleging that the Mountain View, California-based tech giant is looking to hide a major gender pay gap issue that exists within its ranks. Google repeatedly denied those accusations, stating that its pay structure is decentralized and personalized precisely so as to avoid any systemic discrimination.
In a comment on the matter published on Monday, Google’s Vice President of People Operations Eileen Naughton reiterated that Google doesn’t have a gender pay gap issue and has already publicly shared the methodology it used to conclude that all of its employees are compensated fairly regardless of their gender. Naughton also recalled how Alphabet’s subsidiary shared hundreds of thousands of documents and data points with the OFCCP in the past as part of previous audits but ultimately decided to resist recent requests after the government agency demanded access to 15 years worth of salary information. The Internet giant deemed the request to be overly broad and inconsiderate in regards to both the privacy of its employees and the company as a whole, stating that even if it wanted to give in to the agency’s demands, doing so would prove to be overly costly. An administrative law judge seemingly agreed with that assessment last week, ruling that the OFCCP overstepped its jurisdiction and adding that the latest set of requests that Google has been served with were not only troublesome in regards to the aforementioned points but were also only loosely aimed at obtaining the actual salary data from the Silicon Valley giant.
The company that hired a VP of Diversity amidst its ongoing legal battle with the DOL said that it’s now waiting for the judge’s recommendation to become final and is willing to comply with a more limited request that would see it provide the federal agency with personal contact information for 8,000 of its employees, as opposed to 25,000 that the OFCCP initially demanded.