Google wins ruling on employee data request in wage discrimination investigation

Mountain View California. Google Inc. reported its fourth quarter earnings today with net income growing to $1.03 billion or $3.29 per share compar

Google has denied it has a gender pay gap among its workers

The Labor Department's federal solicitor in San Francisco, Janet Herold, told The Register: "The court's decision vindicates OFCCP's vigorous enforcement of the disclosure and anti-discrimination obligations federal contractors voluntarily accept in exchange for taxpayer funds".

Regarding contact data, the judge wrote: "Together, this should give OFCCP ability to contact - confidentially and without Google's knowledge - all employees whom OFCCP believes are likely to have information relevant to the investigation (plus others whom OFCCP randomly selects), keep those employees hidden in plain sight, and at the same time protect the private contact information of as many Google employees as possible". "The Department of Labor [.] was recently attacked with ransomware".

On Friday, Judge Steven Berlin ruled that the Labor Department could not have access to 21,000 Google employees' contact information, but did say that the company must hand over a snapshot of their salary data from 2014 and contact info for 8,000 employees.

A federal court in California moved on Friday to spare Google from turning over a trove of information about its employees to the USA government as the feds continue to investigate whether the tech giant underpays its female workers.

Federal investigators can try again, however, if they can "show that the request is reasonable, within its authority, relevant to the investigation, focused, and not unduly burdensome", the judge found.

The judge's preliminary decision drastically limits the number of company employees whose contact information must be provided to the Labor Department.

Google welcomed the decision and said it would comply with the order.

The audit continues, and what the DoL discovers will reveal if Google is the rare utopia of a tech company without gender discrimination it claims to be.

Nor is Google required to provide salary history and job history for its employees dating back to their hiring. Those records are at the center of the new ruling, with Google successfully arguing that handing over the additional records breaches privacy laws and could expose staff to identity theft in the event of a government data breach. In a blog post, Naughton said, "While we're pleased with Friday's recommended decision, we remain committed to treating and paying, people fairly and without bias with regard to factors like gender or race".

A spokesman for the Department of Labor, meanwhile, did not immediately respond Sunday night to an email about its next step.

A judge on Friday ruled the Labor Department's request for almost two decades of data - including personal information on over 25,000 Google employees - is "unreasonable in that it is over-broad, intrusive on employee privacy, unduly burdensome, and insufficiently focused on obtaining the relevant information".

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