Oracle accused of underpaying women, minorities by $400 million

Oracle is accused to shorting women and minorities out of $400 million in wages.

Justin Sullivan/Techhnews

Oracle engaged in systematic discrimination that shorted female and minority employees more than $400 million in wages, according to a new legal filing by US Department of Labor.

The complaint alleges that Oracle discriminates against women and minorities at the company by starting women and people of color at low-level jobs and low initial pay. The lawsuit also accuses Oracle of “channeling” these employees into lower-paying careers at the business software maker.

“Oracle suppressed starting salaries for its female and non-White employees, assigned them to lower level positions and depressed their wages over the years they worked at Oracle,” the Labor Department said in its lawsuit Tuesday.

The lawsuit also alleges Oracle has a strong preference for hiring Asians who are recent college graduates, saying that about 90 percent of the company’s 500 college and university hires made between 2013 and 2016 were Asian. The complain also alleges that Oracle prefers to hire visa-holding Asians who recently graduated college, a preference the Labor Department says “lends itself to suppression of that workforce’s wages.”

The pay gap is one of many diversity issues confronting companies in the tech industry. Silicon Valley has faced tough questions about the treatment of women and minorities, and the industry continues to struggle with recruitment, retention and promotion.

On average, 30 percent of the tech industry workforce is female, but studies indicate that more diverse teams, in terms of gender and race, show greater creativity and experimentation — and get better results.

The lawsuit stems from a 2014 audit conducted by the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. The OFCCP, which is responsible for ensuring that companies doing business with the federal government comply with equal pay and other nondiscrimination requirements, filed a similar lawsuit against Oracle in 2017.

The complaint goes on to accuse Oracle of not cooperating with the investigation and even “destroyed records relating to its hiring process as the case was ongoing.”

An Oracle representative declined to comment.

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