The U.S. Department of Labor Takes on Discrimination by High Tech Employers

The U.S. Department of Labor is challenging long-standing and overt discriminatory employment practices in the high-tech industry by threatening to cancel the alleged violators’ federal contracts.

In recent months, the DOL has sued Oracle America, Inc., Google Inc. and the startup, Palantir, for alleged discriminatory conduct. This follows years in which the DOL and the EEOC appeared to have adopted a “hands off” policy with respect to high-tech employers.

The DOL filed a lawsuit on Jan. 17 charging Oracle with allegedly paying white males more than other workers at its Redwood Shores, CA,  headquarters. The DOL reported finding “gross disparities in pay even after controlling for job title, full-time status, exempt status, global career level, job specialty, estimated prior work experience and company tenure.”

The DOL also charged Oracle, which has 45,000 employees across the country, with heavily favoring Asian Indians in hiring and recruitment. The lawsuit alleges that 82 percent of new hires in a professional technical group at Oracle’s headquarters were Asian during a six-month period in 2013,  even though only 75 percent of job applicants were Asian. The DOL noted that Oracle targeted Asian Indians in recruitment efforts that including referral bonuses.

Oracle allegedly discriminated against White, Hispanic, and African-American applicants.

The lawsuit alleges Oracle discriminated against “qualified White, Hispanic, and African-American applicants in favor of Asian applicants, particularly Asian Indians” in 69 job titles at its headquarters. The suit alleges that Oracle discriminated against qualified female employees in technology, support and product development units.

Earlier this year, the DOL sued  Google to pressure the search engine giant to turn over compensation data on its employees and  Palantir, for allegedly discriminating against Asian job applicants.

The stakes are high. Millions of dollars. All of companies deny engaging in discriminatory conduct.

The DOL lawsuits are based on alleged violations of Executive Order 11246, which was signed into law by former President Lyndon Banes Johnson in 1965 and prohibits discrimination in hiring and employment by federal contractors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  The Executive Order does not include age discrimination, which is not monitored by either the DOL or the EEOC.

The Executive Order requires federal contractors to submit documentation of hiring and employment practices to the DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

The Oracle lawsuit is based on a compliance review dating from Jan. 1, 2014. The DOL claims Oracle refused to produce employment data predating 2013.

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