Google accused of 'very significant' pay discrimination

The Labor Department claimed Friday that Google has fostered an "extreme" gender pay gap across its entire workforce.

The bombshell accusation stems from an ongoing investigation into the search giant's payroll practices, The Guardian first reported. It also comes after the company sang its own praises during Equal Pay Day this week.

A department official testified in a San Francisco courtroom this week that enough "compelling evidence" had already been found to make a case for systemic discrimination. The agency first filed suit against Google in January in a bid to force the company to turn over salary data in accordance with anti-discrimination laws.

"The government's analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry," Labor Department regional director Janette Wipper said in court Friday, per The Guardian's report.

The company claimed this week that it had closed its gender pay gap worldwide in a tweet commemorating Equal Pay Day.

The charge comes as reports of Uber's systemic sexism towards female employees have yet again thrown the tech industry's problems with gender bias into sharp relief.

Men far outnumber women in Silicon Valley — particularly in lucrative technical jobs and positions of power — and a number of lawsuits and personal testimonies in recent years have pointed towards a slanted playing field that enforces that norm.

See the gender wage gap state by state:

51 PHOTOS
Gender pay gap state to state ranking
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Gender pay gap state to state ranking

51. Louisiana 

Gender pay gap: 34.7%

(Ian Dagnall / Alamy)

50. Utah 

Gender pay gap: 32.4%

(CountyLemonade/Flickr)

49. Wyoming 

Gender pay gap: 31.2% 

(Philip Scalia / Alamy)

48. West Virginia

Gender pay gap: 30%

(J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)

47. North Dakota

Gender pay gap: 28.7%

(Tim Evanson/Flickr)

46. Alabama

Gender pay gap: 27.4%

(Danny Hooks / Alamy)

45. Idaho

Gender pay gap: 27.2%

(Philip Scalia / Alamy)

44. Oklahoma

Gender pay gap: 26.5%

(thefixer/Flickr)

43. Montana

Gender pay gap: 25.8%

(John Elk III / Alamy)

42. Michigan

Gender pay gap: 25.5%

(curiousjohn/Flickr)

41. Indiana

Gender pay gap: 24.8%

(ellenm1/Flickr)

40. New Hampshire

Gender pay gap: 24.3%

(cmh2315fl/Flickr)

39. South Dakota

Gender pay gap: 23.8%

(SuperStock / Alamy)

38. Mississippi

Gender pay gap: 23%

(Don Smetzer / Alamy)

37. Kansas

Gender pay gap: 23%

(Jim West / Alamy)

35. Iowa

Gender pay gap: 22.7%

(Ellen Isaacs / Alamy) 

34. Missouri

Gender pay gap: 22.6%

(L. Allen Brewer/Flickr)

33. Ohio

Gender pay gap: 22.2%

(sailwings/Flickr)

32. New Mexico

Gender pay gap: 21.9%

(Patrick Ray Dunn / Alamy)

31. Arkansas

Gender pay gap: 21.8%

(Buddy Mays / Alamy)

30. Texas

Gender pay gap: 21.2%

(Ian Dagnall / Alamy)

29.  Maine

Gender pay gap: 21.2%

(PHOTOPHANATIC1/Flickr)

28. Nebraska

Gender pay gap: 21.1%

(Ian G Dagnall / Alamy)

27. Wisconsin 

Gender pay gap: 21.1%

(Jeff Greenberg 5 / Alamy)

26. Illinois

Gender pay gap: 20.9%

(incamerastock / Alamy)

25. Pennsylvania

Gender pay gap: 20.8%

(dannyfowler/Flickr)

24. Kentucky

Gender pay gap: 20.1%

(toddmundt/Flickr)

23. Virginia

Gender pay gap: 19.8%

(JoeDuck/Flickr)

22. South Carolina

Gender pay gap: 19.8%

(Ellisphotos / Alamy)

21. New Jersey 

Gender pay gap: 19.7%

(Robert Quinlan / Alamy)

20. Alaska

Gender pay gap: 19.2%

(retro traveler/Flickr)

19. Delaware

Gender pay gap: 19.0%

(J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)

18. Tennessee

Gender pay gap: 18.5%

(Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits/Flickr)

17. Minnesota

Gender pay gap: 18.4%

(kla4067/Flickr)

16. Rhode Island

Gender pay gap: 18.3%

(Dougtone/Flickr)

15. Georgia 

Gender pay gap: 18.2%

(Ian Dagnall Commercial Collection / Alamy)

14. Colorado 

Gender pay gap: 18.1%

(Jesse Varner/Flickr)

13. Massachusetts

Gender pay gap: 18.0%

(Manu_H/Flickr)

11. Connecticut

Gender pay gap: 17.4%

(Dougtone/Flickr)

10. Vermont

Gender pay gap: 16.2%

(pthread1981/Flickr)

9.  Arizona

Gender pay gap: 15.9%

(Photoshot Holdings Ltd / Alamy)

8. California

Gender pay gap: 15.8%

(Robert Landau / Alamy)

7. North Carolina

Gender pay gap: 15.3%

(sevenblock/Flickr)

6. Florida

Gender pay gap: 15.1%

(FL Stock / Alamy)

5. Nevada

Gender pay gap: 14.9%

(D-Stanley/Flickr)

4. Maryland

Gender pay gap: 14.6%

(tim caynes/Flickr)

3. Hawaii

Gender pay gap: 14.1%

(Mauro Ladu / Alamy)

2. New York

Gender pay gap: 13.2%

(drpavloff/Flickr)

1. Washington D.C.

Gender pay gap: 10.4%

(Alexandre Deslongchamps via Getty Images)

Puerto Rico has the smallest gender pay gap, and it benefits women. 

Gender pay gap: -4.6% -- Women earn more than men by a small margin

(Fuse via Getty Images)

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But a full-fledged takedown at one of the biggest companies in the industry — and the world — could be explosive.

Google's latest diversity report revealed that only 31 percent of its employees are female. Just one in five technical roles are held by women and a quarter of leadership posts.

The Labor Department has been collecting salary information from Google since late 2015. The company was forthcoming with several of the requested data sets and, at one point, allowed regulators to interview employees at its Mountain View, California headquarters.

But the company took issue with a follow-up order that called for detailed profiles of each employee, including prior job history and salaries, personal contact information, and competing offers, according to the tech law blog The Recorder.

Google said in a statement at the time of the suit's filing that it refused the request because it was "overbroad in scope" and a breach of workers' privacy.

A lawyer representing Google alleged during Friday's hearing that the request was a violation of the constitution's Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable searches.

The company didn't immediately respond to our request for comment.

The Labor Department is entitled to all of this information because Google is technically a federal contractor.

The agency has asked the court to suspend all of the company's government contracts and bar it from any in the future if it doesn't comply.

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