Judge Rules in Google’s Favour in Employee Data Case Against Labor Department

The US Department of Labor had earlier asked Google to share personal details of its current as well as previous employees to ascertain claims related to pay disparity between male and female employees and the judge incharge of the case has ruled in the search engine giant’s favour.

Photo: Niharb/Flickr CC

On Friday, Judge Steven Berlin sided with Google when he denied the request made by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) — a Department of Labor agency — to submit personal data of over 25,000 of its employees including their address and contact info.

The judge cited that the request made by the agency was “intrusive on employee privacy, unduly burdensome and insufficiently focused” as the OFCCP couldn’t justify their request for the amount of info they wanted.

The agency was looking for  personal information of employees who have worked with Google in the past 15 years.

The judge also mentioned that this amount of personal data becomes a liability and is highly dangerous in case of a breach of government database which is a possibility.

Privacy concern is the main reason for the Judge’s ruling.

According to a blog post by Google’s VP of People’s Operations, Eileen Naughton, the company had provided the agency with 329,000 documents and over 1.7 million data points but soon ‘reached an impasse’ as the OFCCP’s demands for employee data kept rising.

“We were concerned that these requests went beyond the scope of what was relevant to this specific audit, and posed unnecessary risks to employees’ privacy,” she wrote.

The judgement read: “…having reviewed over a million compensation-related data points and many hundreds of thousands of documents, OFCCP offered nothing credible or reliable to show that its theory … is based … on anything more than speculation.”

If the Department of Labor doesn’t file an appeal and the judge’s recommendation stays then Google will have to comply with the rest of the order and share ‘limited data set of information’ of over 8,000 employees.

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