Oracle allegedly withheld $400 million in wages from underrepresented employees

Oracle has allegedly withheld $400 million in wages from racially underrepresented workers (black, Latinx and Asian) as well as women, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs said in a filing today. The OFCCP is the office within the DOL that enforces equal pay and ensures government contractors comply with anti-discrimination regulation.

In the OFCCP’s second amended complaint today, the office alleges Oracle “impermissibly denies equal employment opportunity to non-Asian applicants for employment, strongly preferring a workforce that it can later underpay. Once employed, women, Blacks and Asians are systematically underpaid relative to their peers,” the complaint alleges.

Allegedly, Oracle’s underpayment of certain employees is driven by the company’s reliance on prior salary information and funneling non-white, non-male employees into lower-paid roles.

The department argues that Oracle’s “stark patterns of discrimination” started back in 2013 and continues into the present day. More specifically, the OFCCP alleges Oracle discriminated against black, Asian and female employees. This has all ultimately resulted in the collective loss of more than $400 million for this group of employees, the suit alleges.

The office also alleges Oracle discriminates against those who have visas, often putting them in low-level jobs. The vast majority of hires from Oracle’s college recruiting program, the suit alleges, were international students with student visas.

“These students required work authorization to remain in the United States after graduation,” the suit alleges. “In other words, Oracle overwhelmingly hires workers dependent upon Oracle for sponsorship to remain in the United States.”

The OFCCP filed the suit against Oracle last January, following the Labor Department’s 2014 audit of the company. That suit was followed by an employee-led class-action lawsuit last September alleging Oracle pays women less than men in similar jobs.

Oracle is subject to auditing as a result of its contracts with the federal government. Given Oracle’s agreement to provide equal employment opportunity, the OFCCP is asking the Court to require Oracle to pay those affected and correct its “discriminatory compensation and hiring practices.” The office is also demanding that Oracle lose its $100 million worth of annual contracts with the government.

Oracle, which declined to comment for this story, is not the only company the OFCCP has gone after. A couple of years ago, the office went after Google in an attempt to obtain compensation data, followed by a claim that Google has systemic gender-based pay inequities. That same year, the office sued Palantir for racial discrimination. Palantir, several months later, settled with the DOL, agreeing to pay $1.7 million in back wages and other types of monetary relief to those affected.

Update Jan 23. 2019: Oracle has since decided to comment. See story below.