Google and the United States Department of Labor (DoL) are currently in a head-to-head battle over what seems to be a reasonable request.
The DoL is seeking wage data for its investigation into what it has called an “extreme” gender pay gap at Google, but the company is refusing the ask. On Friday, Google officials testified in federal court that the company would have to unfairly spend $100,000 and up to 500 hours of work to comply with investigators’ demands.
“This is obviously a very time-consuming and burdensome project,” said Lisa Barnett Sween, one of Google’s attorneys, according to The Guardian.
Claiming that the company has already worked 2,300 hours at a cost of nearly $500,000 to partially comply with the government’s “broad” and “unconstitutional” demands, she added, “our courts must act to check this abuse of power.”
Google’s senior legal operations manager Kristin Zmrhal also testified that the data collection the company has already done for the DoL has been “too burdensome.” She claims it’s required engineers, lawyers and employees across departments to do various complex tasks including building new systems.
“The team was bogged down,” she also said, adding that Google had to hire a third-party vendor to help.
Google is worth over $500 billion. It’s the second most valuable company in the world. Last year, it pulled in over $54 billion in gross income. With all of this in mind, the DoL isn’t buying this excuse.
“Google would be able to absorb the cost as easy as a dry kitchen sponge could absorb a single drop of water,” DoL attorney Ian Eliasoph said on Friday, according to The Guardian. This was during the final day of testimony in what is undoubtedly the most high-profile government trial surrounding the institutionalized wage gap and gender discrimination problem plaguing the tech industry.
The DoL publicly accused Google of “systemic compensation disparities” in April, but back in January, it sued the company for violating federal laws in its refusal to provide employee salary and contact information as part of a government audit. Since Google is a federal contractor, it’s required to comply with equal opportunity laws and allow investigators to review records.
Considering this, Eliasoph said that it was outrageous for Google to argue that historical salary data was irrelevant to the government’s audit.
“This claim requires putting one’s head in the sand with respect to 30 years of law on pay discrimination,” he said.