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Google claims to have ended unequal pay worldwide. Has it really?

Tuesday, April 4, was Equal Pay Day here in the U.S. -- the day on which the average female American worker has finally earned the amount the average male worker made in 2016. This year, in other words, the earnings from 94 days in 2017 would be required for the average U.S. woman to earn what it only took 2016 for a man to make.

"Let's make every day #EqualPayDay," Tweeted Google a bit smugly, along with, "We're proud to share that we have closed the gender pay gap globally ... according to our annual compensation analysis." They also claim to have ended all racial disparities in pay among Google workers globally.

Not so, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In January, the DOL randomly initiated an audit of the company and demanded it turn over pay records as required to prove compliance with equal pay laws regarding federal contractors. Google refused to do so.

The company argued it was simply too burdensome to comply with the FLSA and other fair work standards laws. According to its lawyers, it would cost about $1 million to compile the required records, which would include pay documentation for some 20,000 workers and 54,000 interviewees who didn't get hired.

A DOL administrative law judge ruled preliminarily that compliance was indeed too burdensome, but on Friday, the DOL announced that it has discovered "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce."

Flummoxed, Google responded that it couldn't disagree more. "Every year, we do a comprehensive and robust analysis of pay across genders and we have found no gender pay gap. Other than making an unfounded statement which we heard for the first time in court, the DOL hasn't provided any data, or shared its methodology," said a spokesperson.

With unnamed evidence of systemic discrimination in hand, the DOL argued a new case before the administrative law judge, urging the ALJ to reverse the preliminary ruling. Google should be required to comply, the regional director for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs argued, so that the DOL can fully investigate whether systemic discrimination is occurring.

If the ALJ rules that Google must comply and the company refuses, it may lose all of its federal contracts.

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