Published: Tue, July 18, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Judge limits salary data Google has to give Labor Department

Judge limits salary data Google has to give Labor Department

If Google doesn't hand over the data, the department says, it should lose its government contracts.

Google has won at least an interim victory in its dispute with the U.S. Department of Labor over a planned anti-discrimination audit of the company. Google did not comply and in an attempt to force it to release the data, the Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against the tech giant at the end of a year ago. "We are proud of our practices and leadership in this area, and we look forward to working constructively with OFCCP, as we complete this review and in the future".

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 judge partially sided with Google and asked the company to provide a much more limited set of data to the government agency.

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The defense earned a strong rebuke from the DoL and others in the industry who noted Google has touted its $150m "diversity" efforts and has a almost $28bn annual income as one of the world's wealthiest companies, building some of the most advanced technology.

Privacy concern is the main reason for the Judge's ruling.

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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Friday's decision by Steven Berlin, the judge overseeing the case, said that Labor did not explain convincingly why it needed extensive data on Googlers, including their names, addresses, telephone numbers and personal email addresses. "It can achieve the same ends going back far fewer years". So investigators requested the same data from Google for September 1, 2014, along with salary and job histories and contact information for 25,000 employees.

Google denied the allegation, saying that the claim was made "without any supporting data or methodology" and noted that "the OFCCP representative claimed to have reached this conclusion even as the OFCCP is seeking thousands of employee records".

Eileen Naughton, Google vice president of people operations, said in a blog post dated Monday that Google has already provided more than 329,000 documents and more than 1.7 million data points, including detailed compensation information, in response to OFCCP's 18 different data requests.

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The Labor Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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