Judge Sides With Google In Lawsuit, Says Labor Department Violating Employee Privacy

Labor Department sides with Google

Labor Department sides with Google

A judge ruled that Google does not have to hand over some of the data that the Department of Labor had requested as part of an investigation into whether the internet search giant had engaged in gender pay discrimination.

Google said the request went beyond the scope of what was relevant to the audit and posed risks to employees' privacy.

According to The Washington Post, in denying the OFFCPP application the judge said the Department of Labor did not explain convincingly why it needed extensive data on Googlers, including their names, addresses, telephone numbers and personal email addresses.

The company insisted that its own analysis showed no significant difference between men and women's compensations, and that there was a process available to employees concerned that they were being treated unfairly.

It requested the employee details as part of its investigation, which administrative law judge Steve Berlin denied on grounds of the demands being: "over-broad, intrusive on employee privacy, unduly burdensome and insufficiently focused on obtaining the relevant information".

The OFCCP was also requesting contact info for all Google's 25,000 or so employees (from either the 2014 or 2015 snapshot) so that it could get a selection of workers' views on compensation.

"Anyone alive today likely is aware of data breaches surrounding this country's most recent Presidential election", Berlin wrote.

Nor is Google required to provide salary history and job history for its employees dating back to their hiring. Ransomware being used internationally is reportedly derived from tools hacked from our national security agencies.

Google has won a legal battle against the Department of Labor's Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which demanded a list of its employee data.

"Assuming the recommended decision becomes final, we'll comply with the remainder of the order, and provide the much more limited data set of information the judge approved, including the contact information for a smaller sample of up to 8,000 employees", Eileen Naughton, vice president of people operations at Google, said in a blog post.

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".

The 43-page decision could be finalized by as soon as the end of the month if an appeal is not filed in the coming week.

Still, the government's probe is hardly over - and it comes at a time of heightened scrutiny in Silicon Valley over the way women are treated in the tech industry.

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