Labor Dept accuses Google of systemic gender pay discrimination

A random audit has resulted in a big lawsuit against Google. The allegations? "Systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce," according to the Department of Labor.

The news came just as Google purported to have ended pay discrimination in its ranks worldwide. "Let's make every day #EqualPayDay," the company Tweeted, along with, "We're proud to share that we have closed the gender pay gap globally ... according to our annual compensation analysis."

It's hard to say whether Google's annual compensation analysis was flawed. In January, the Labor Department initiated a lawsuit because Google allegedly refused to turn over required pay records to demonstrate its compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and other equal opportunity laws in regards to federal contractors. Three weeks ago, an administrative law judge ruled preliminarily it would be too burdensome for Google to provide the information.

On Friday, however, the Labor Department was allowed to argue against that preliminary decision. The Labor Department's regional director for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs pointed out that, without the pay documents, it cannot fully investigate allegedly systemic discrimination. Moreover, it might help explain the pay disparity the DOL has alleged.

She recommended that all of Google's federal contracts be canceled if it refuses to comply.

Google claims it would cost at least $1 million to gather the information, which would involve interview information from 54,000 job candidates and around 20,000 employees. A ruling on Google's behalf could significantly change compliance standards for federal contractors.