Department of Labor drops appeal in fight for Google salary data

Google's campus next to headquarters in Mountain View, California

Google and the Department of Labor have been battling over pay data since 2017.


Stephen Shankland/CNET

The US Department of Labor has dropped its appeal in a spat with Google over employee salary data. On Friday, a review board granted the agency’s voluntary request to dismiss its appeal.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), an agency of the US Labor Department, has been investigating Google’s salary records for signs of gender inequality. In January 2017, the agency sued Google to compel it to hand over compensation data as part of an audit to ensure the search giant, a federal contractor, is honoring equal employment laws.

The Labor Department said in April 2017 that Google systematically pays its female employees less than it pays men. The company has strongly denied that assertion.

In July 2017, a judge ruled the Labor Department’s request for nearly two decades of data — including information on over 25,000 Google employees — was “unreasonable in that it is over-broad, intrusive on employee privacy, unduly burdensome, and insufficiently focused on obtaining the relevant information.” The judge said OFCCP could request data on up to 5,000 Google employees, and may request information for up to 3,000 more. The Labor Department also has to limit the time frame for salary data it’s collecting.

The Department of Labor didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A Google spokeswoman said the company had no new comment on the case but pointed to a previous statement: 

“We believe the decision here was well-reasoned, thorough and should be upheld. We’ve already produced hundreds of thousands of documents to the OFCCP in this matter and believe, as the judge ruled, that they have adequate information to do their analysis, with the few additional records the court asked us to produce. There’s been no finding of discrimination by the OFCCP to date and we’re confident in our own analysis that we don’t have a gender pay gap.”

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