Google denies labor department’s claim that gender-based pay inequities are ‘systemic’ at the company

Happy belated Equal Pay Day! The U.S. Department of Labor testified in court today that pay inequities at Google are “systemic,” The Guardian reports. Earlier this month, Google said it had closed the gender pay gap globally.

“We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,” Department of Labor Regional Director Janette Wipper said in court today.

More specifically, the DoL alleges that Google violated federal employment laws in relation to salaries for its female employees. But Google, unsurprisingly, denies Wipper’s claim.

“We vehemently disagree with Ms Whipper’s claim,” a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch in an email. “Every year, we do a comprehensive and robust analysis of pay across genders and we have found no gender pay gap. Other than making an unfounded statement which we heard for the first time in court, the DoL hasn’t provided any data, or shared its methodology.”

Back in January, the DoL filed a lawsuit against Google in an attempt to obtain compensation data from the tech giant as part of a routine compliance evaluation. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs asked Google to submit information about the company’s equal opportunity program and practices in September 2015, but Google did not comply, according to the lawsuit.

Because Google is a federal contractor, it is required to let the government review documents and other information that is relevant to the company’s compliance with equal employment laws.

“Like other federal contractors, Google has a legal obligation to provide relevant information requested in the course of a routine compliance evaluation,” OFCCP Acting Director Thomas M. Dowd said in January. “Despite many opportunities to produce this information voluntarily, Google has refused to do so. We filed this lawsuit so we can obtain the information we need to complete our evaluation.”

The OFCCP said that if Google did not comply, it would ask the court to cancel all of Google’s current contracts with the government, and also prevent it from obtaining contracts in the future. But Google said it had provided “hundreds of thousands” of records, including information related to compensation, to the OFCCP, a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch when the lawsuit surfaced in January.

At the court hearing today, Lisa Barnett Sween, one of Google’s lawyers, said the DoL’s request is unconstitutional, The Guardian reports, calling it a “fishing expedition that has absolutely no relevance to the compliance review.”