Oracle pay bias lawsuit: Tech giant underpaid thousands of women, black and Asian employees

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The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has accused tech giant Oracle of discriminating against women, black, Asian and Hispanic employees. In a federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday, January 22, the department said that Oracle not only underpaid these workers but also refused to hire many such applicants.

The DoL has accused Oracle of underpaying more than 5,000 women employees with disparity recorded at about 20 percent and said that over 11,000 Asians too were paid 8 percent lesser than the other workers.

"Oracle has continued to systemically discriminate against employees and applicants based on gender and race," Bloomberg Law quoted Labor Department attorney Laura Bremer as telling administrative law judge. The DoL also revealed that it had obtained the company's pay records and found out that Oracle determined workers' salaries based on the pay they received in their previous jobs and added that it mostly starts women and black workers at "low-level jobs and low starting pay."

It explained that about 500 people were hired for technical jobs over a period of four years, but of these only six were African-Americans and five were Hispanic. Most of the workers were Asians, who were then underpaid.

The California-based company reportedly prefers to hire Asians with student visas for several roles in the company so that they are "dependent upon Oracle for sponsorship in order to remain in the United States," and in turn the company systematically underpays them.

"Oracle's suppression of pay for its non-White, non-male employees is so extreme that it persists and gets worse over long careers; female, Black, and Asian employees with years of experience are paid as much as 25 percent less than their peers," the complaint said.

"Oracle's compensation practices cause an increasing pay gap as those employees devote more of their lives to Oracle."

The allegations against Oracle come up from an audit that the Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs had carried out in 2014. After the audit reports showed that many employees at the company were underpaid, the OFCCP sued Oracle in January 2017.

OFCCP is responsible for ensuring that companies pay their employees equally and also meet the requirements of the law.

Meanwhile, Oracle has denied all these claims and called the lawsuit "meritless."

Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said that these were false allegations, and that the suit "relies on cherry picked statistics rather than reality. We fiercely disagree with the spurious claims and will continue in the process to prove them false. We are in compliance with our regulatory obligations, committed to equality, and proud of our employees.