Federal investigators accuse Google of underpaying women

WASHINGTON -- In recruiting videos, Google says it wants more women at the top of the company.

“We want to see more women in senior leadership positions,” says one video. “We want to see more people from underrepresented groups because it makes us a better company.”

But the Department of Labor is investigating the tech giant for gender pay discrimination. 

At a court hearing Friday,  a Labor Department official said the agency found “systemic compensation disparities against women” at Google.

The government sued Google in January, demanding statistics on employee compensation. Federal contractors are required to comply with federal civil rights law. The government says Google was selected randomly for an audit and refused to hand over data despite repeated requests.

“They run the risk of losing all their federal contracts -- that’s a significant punishment,” says attorney Randolph McLaughlin, who teaches labor law at Pace Law School. “To be accused in this day in age of paying hundreds of thousands of women across the board at a lower rate, that significantly has the potential to damage the brand.”

In a statement, Google says it vehemently disagrees with the government.

“Every year, we do a comprehensive and robust analysis of pay across genders and we have found no gender pay gap,” said Google’s statement. “Other than making an unfounded statement which we heard for the first time in court, the Department of Labor hasn’t provided any data, or shared its methodology.”

Google pointed us to a tweet it sent out on equal pay day, an op-ed and its pay equity guide. It did not provide us with any data nor would it tell us whether it has supplied the Department of Labor with the hard data it has asked for.