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Oracle Is Getting Sued For Discrimination — By The US Government

The complaint alleges that Oracle — which has received "hundreds of millions in federal government contracts" — paid white men more money to do the same job as female, African-American, and Asian employees. Oracle CEO Safra Catz joined President-elect Donald Trump's transition team last month.

Posted on January 18, 2017, at 2:14 p.m. ET

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Just two weeks after filing suit against Google, the Department of Labor has brought suit against another big tech company: Oracle. On Wednesday morning the agency filed a complaint of racial discrimination against the database giant, which employs some 45,000 people in the US.

The complaint alleges that Oracle engaged a "systemic practice of paying Caucasian male workers more than their counterparts in the same job title," resulting in pay discrimination against women and African-American and Asian employees, especially in technical and product development positions.

The complaint further alleges that Oracle favors Asian applicants — "particularly Asian Indians" — when hiring, in part because "targeted recruitment, and referral bonuses ... encouraged its heavily Asian workforce to recruit other Asians."

In a statement, Oracle spokesperson Deborah Hellinger denied allegations of discrimination, decrying the Department of Labor's complaint as "politically motivated, based on false allegations, and wholly without merit. Oracle values diversity and inclusion, and is a responsible equal opportunity and affirmative action employer, Our hiring and pay decisions are non-discriminatory and made based on legitimate business factors including experience and merit."

Oracle CEO Safra Catz joined President-elect Donald Trump's transition team last month, following a meeting between Trump and leaders in the tech industry. "I plan to tell the president-elect that we are with him and will help in any way we can," Catz said ahead of the meeting. "If he can reform the tax code, reduce regulation and negotiate better trade deals, the US technology industry will be stronger and more competitive than ever.”

Oracle has many contracts with the federal government, which are worth hundred of millions of dollars. As such, the company has to meet certain requirements when it comes to equal employment opportunity and the provision of certain data. The Department of Labor in its complaint alleges that Oracle "refused to produce" compensation data, hiring data, and "any material demonstrating whether or not it had performed an in-depth review of its compensation practices."

If government contractors don't provide necessary information, the government can sue — and it has, filing similar suits against Google earlier this month and Palantir last fall. The agency also sued JPMorgan today over similar allegations of gender pay discrimination.

The Department of Labor itself is in a transitional moment, with Trump's inauguration coming up on Friday and the Obama administration on its way out. The confirmation of Trump's pick for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, has been delayed following revived accusations of spousal abuse and reports that widespread criticism from unions and Democrats has left Puzder less than enthusiastic about taking the job. (Puzder has more or less denied these claims.)

Oracle, meanwhile, did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for recent diversity numbers. According to the company's website, less than a third of the company is female, but 37% of its staff are "minority employees." Whether Oracle includes Asians in the "minority employees" category is unclear. Oracle's diversity website makes no mention of compensation parity.

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