The allegations were raised during a routine compliance audit several years ago when Google was a US government technology provider.
Alphabet Inc’s Google will spend $ 3.8 million, including $ 2.6 million in back pay, to address allegations that it underpaid women and unfairly ignored women and Asians for offers of employment, the US Department of Labor said Monday.
The allegations stemmed from a routine compliance audit several years ago required by Google’s status as a technology supplier to the U.S. federal government.
Google said it was happy it fixed the issue.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs had found “preliminary indicators” that Google from 2014 to 2017 sometimes underpaid 2,783 women in its software engineering group in Mountain View, California and the Seattle area.
Investigators also found differences in hiring rates that put Asian women and applicants at a disadvantage in the year ended August 31, 2017 for software engineering positions in San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Calif. And Kirkland, Washington.
The settlement includes $ 2.6 million in back pay for 5,500 employees and job applicants and calls on Google to review hiring and salary practices.
Google will also set aside $ 1.25 million for salary adjustments for engineers in Mountain View, Kirkland, Seattle and New York over the next five years, according to the settlement. Any unused funds will go towards diversity efforts at Google.
The company already conducts annual salary audits, but like other big tech companies, it remains in public scrutiny for a workforce that does not reflect the makeup of the country in terms of race and gender.
The company said in a statement, “We believe everyone should be paid for the work they do, not who they are, and invest heavily in making our hiring and compensation processes fair and impartial.”
The news of the settlement comes in the wake of a controversy around the exit in December of a researcher, Timnit Gebru, in a storm of controversy.
Gebru is best known for showing how facial recognition algorithms are more effective at identifying whites than blacks. She said she was fired after the company asked her to remove a research article she co-wrote that questioned the AI technology at the heart of Google’s search engine. The company announced its resignation.