By Wayne D. Garris Jr., J.D.
The agency alleged that the tech company owed its women and minority workers $400 million dollars in wages because it had paid them less and steered them into lower-level positions.
On September 22, 2020, a DOL Administrative Law Judge recommended the dismissal of the OFCCP’s complaint accusing Oracle of engaging in “systemic gender and racial discrimination” with respect to compensating women and minority employees. In January 2017, OFCCP had sued the company arguing that it owed its women and minority employees $400 million in wages.
After an eight-day hearing, Judge Richard Clark issued a 278-page decision recommending that the complaint be dismissed because there was not enough evidence that the tech giant engaged in systemic discriminatory practices. Among the judge’s key findings were that:
- Oracle did not engage in intentional compensation discrimination at its headquarters facility against female, Asian, or African employee. Despite shortcomings in the employer’s affirmative action program compliance and internal investigations, as well as anecdotal evidence of individual discrimination, DOL failed to show how these issues raised an inference of a pattern and practice of disparate treatment discrimination based on gender or race. The record showed that lower-level managers were responsible for compensation decisions, and executives and HR personnel were not involved in these decisions.
- Statistical evidence did not support systemic discrimination. The statistical evidence did not support an inference that Oracle engaged in the alleged intentional compensation discrimination, and the OFCCP’s expert analysis was “highly aggregated and not attuned to potentially important differences between groups within job functions.” The ALJ characterized the expert’s “measures of experience and education” as “very rough estimates” that “poorly capture the sort of education and experience that matters for compensation at Oracle.
- Oracle did not steer women and minorities to lower-paying positions. OFCCP failed to produce any statistical or non-statistical data to show that Oracle executives were steering women and minorities to lower-paying positions. As it found with respect to Oracle’s pay decisions, the ALJ found that Oracle’s high-level executives were not involved in the placement of employees. Further, the model developed by OFCCP’s expert did not attempt to study steering, and “the statistical evidence that might support an inference to discrimination could not support an inference to the systemic discrimination alleged by OFCCP.”
- Oracle did not rely on pay history when setting salaries. While there was some evidence that Oracle collected salary history data from its employees, it was not clear that the company collected this data consistently. More importantly, there was no direct evidence of a policy or practice of relying on salary history data, in a systemic way, when setting employee salaries.
“After four years of litigation, we are grateful for Judge Clark’s ruling. In a more than 200-page decision, Judge Clark found no evidence of discrimination. We have been subject to years of harassment by Department of Labor employees with no evidence of discrimination whatsoever,” said Oracle’s General Counsel, in a press release. “This case never should have been brought in the first place.”
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