The Department of Labor (DOL) has reached a settlement with Google LLC to resolve allegations of compensation and hiring discrimination. Announced February 1st, 2021, Google will pay over $3.8 million to more than 5,500 current employees and job applicants. The news release comes weeks after the DOL increased civil monetary fines and penalties for violating the agency’s laws.
Background on Case and Investigation
During a routine compliance evaluation, the DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) identified pay disparities affecting female employees. The disparities occurred in software engineering positions at Google facilities in Mountain View, California, and Seattle and Kirkland, Washington. The OFCCP also identified hiring rate differences that disadvantaged female and Asian applicants for software engineering positions. According to the agency, these differences occurred at Google’s locations in San Francisco and Sunnyvale, California, and in Kirkland.
Under the terms of the early resolution conciliation agreement, Google agreed to the following:
- To pay $3,835,052 to resolve the OFCCP’s allegations. Namely, this includes $1,353,052 in back pay and interest to 2,565 female employees in engineering positions subject to pay discrimination. It also includes $1,232,000 in back pay and interest to 1,757 female and 1,219 Asian applicants for software engineering positions.
- Allocate a cash reserve of least $1,250,000 in pay-equity adjustments for the next 5 years. Specifically, this reserve is for U.S. employees in engineering positions at Google’s Mountain View, Kirkland, Seattle, and New York establishments. Those locations alone house approximately 50 percent of Google’s engineering employees nationwide. In those offices, however, Google has only provided jobs to 51 female and 17 Asian applicants for software engineering positions.
Additionally, Google has agreed to enhance future compliance proactively and review current policies and practices related to hiring and compensation. The tech company will also conduct analyses and take corrective action to ensure non-discrimination.
“Pay discrimination remains a systemic problem. Employers must conduct regular pay equity audits to ensure that their compensation systems promote equal opportunity,” said Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Jenny R. Yang.
In conclusion, even though Google employs over 135,000 employees, all employers can learn from this example. Under the EEOC’s Equal Pay Act (EPA), businesses with 2 or more employees must pay equal pay for similar work. Any report to the EEOC of non-pay equity could result in fines and penalties. Similarly, hiring discrimination is illegal under the EEOC’s Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While Title VII applies federally to employers with 15 or more employees, some states have their own hiring discrimination laws. Some of these state laws could apply to small employers with as few as 1 employee. Accordingly, employers need to investigate which, if any, state-specific anti-discrimination laws they need to follow. Employers should also make sure that all employees are fully trained on the workplace’s discrimination prevention policies and procedures.