Government officials investigating how Google pays its employees accused the tech company of fostering an “extreme” gender pay gap across its workforce.
The claim stems from an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. An official from the agency revealed the bombshell allegations — accusing the search giant of violating federal employment law in how its female staff are paid — during a hearing in San Francisco on Friday.
“We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,” Department of Labor regional director Janette Wipper testified.
Janet Herold, a regional solicitor for the agency, told the Guardian their investigation is not yet complete, but the department “has received compelling evidence” proving unfair treatment of women employed by Google. “The government’s analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry,” she said.
Google has denied the claims, even tweeting about its pay practices on Equal Pay Day.
The Department of Labor first filed a suit in January in an attempt to compel the company to turn over salary data per anti-discrimination laws.
Google initially complied with requests, but balked at follow-up orders that called for detailed profiles of their employees, according to the lawsuit cited by the Guardian.
A spokesperson previously claimed that Google has turned over “hundreds of thousands of records,” adding the Department of Labor’s requests were “overboard” and would additionally reveal confidential information and violate their employees’ privacy.
On Friday, Wipper said the agency found proof of unfair pay practices in a 2015 snapshot of salaries, as she explained why the company should be forced to turn over the requested documents.
“We want to understand what’s causing the disparity,” she said, noting that officials would need earlier compensation records in order to understand the root of the problem.
In recent years, Google has been disclosing diversity statistics regarding its workforce while keeping mum on its compensation practices. According to the most recent report, 31% of Google’s overall workforce is made up women with black and Latino employees account for 2% and 3%, respectively.
Fifty-nine percent of its U.S. employees are white and 32% are Asian, the report says.