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The Department Of Labor Is Suing Google Over Equal Employment

As a federal contractor, Google is required to provide the government with data about its equal employment program, but it failed to do so. Now, the Department of Labor is suing.

Posted on January 4, 2017, at 5:44 p.m. ET

The Department of Labor sued Google today over the search behemoth's failure to provide the government with data about its employees' compensation, among other things.

As a federal contractor, Google is required to provide compensation information to the government, but has refused to do so since 2015, according to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

In a press release, OFCCP Acting Director Thomas M. Dowd said, “Like other federal contractors, Google has a legal obligation to provide relevant information requested in the course of a routine compliance evaluation. Despite many opportunities to produce this information voluntarily, Google has refused to do so. We filed this lawsuit so we can obtain the information we need to complete our evaluation.”

The press release specifically says Google was unwilling to provide data regarding its equal opportunity program. When Google released its 2016 diversity numbers in July, the percentage of female versus male employees had increased 1% from the previous year, for a total of 31% women. 91% of Google's employees are White or Asian, while 5% are Hispanic or Black. At the time, the company said it was "still far from where we need to be." In Silicon Valley, Google's lagging employee diversity numbers are not an anomaly. Many of its fellow tech companies, from Apple to Facebook, also employ more white men than any other group.

In a statement, Google said it’s committed to diversity, and has worked to comply with the OFCCP. "However, the handful of OFCCP requests that are the subject of the complaint are overbroad in scope, or reveal confidential data, and we've made this clear to the OFCCP, to no avail,” a Google spokesperson wrote via email. "These requests include thousands of employees’ private contact information which we safeguard rigorously. We hope to continue working with OFCCP to resolve this matter."

In addition to the DOL’s lawsuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is also investigating Google in response to reports of age discrimination. The company was also recently sued by an employee known as John Doe, whose suit alleges that the company exercises unfair control over employee information, including a rule that bars workers from writing fictional novels about their time at Google.

Google did not immediately respond to request for comment. If it fails to comply, the Department of Labor has asked that Google's current government contracts be revoked, and that the company be barred from winning government contracts in the future.

You can read the full lawsuit here.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.