Oracle underpaid thousands of women, minorities, government charges

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The Department of Labor (DoL) accused Oracle of widespread discriminatory wage practices that resulted in the loss of more than $400 million in wages for female, black and Asian employees, according to a federal complaint filed on Tuesday.

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According to the filing, the Silicon Valley giant underpaid women in jobs in its product development, information technology and support job functions, resulting in pay disparities as high as 20 percent, affecting more than 5,000 women. The DoL also alleged that it underpaid black employees, with disparities as high as 7.5 percent, and Asian employees, with gaps as high as 8 percent.

Oracle, which is headed by CEO Larry Ellison, declined to comment.

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U.S. labor officials said in the complaint that out of about 500 graduates hired into technical jobs over a four-year period, only five were Hispanic and only six were African-American. The Redwood Shores, California-based company allegedly used two tactics for discrimination.

First, the government claimed Oracle relied on employee’s prior pay when setting initial sales and second, it said that Oracle intentionally funneled female and minority workers into “lower level positions” and “depressed their wages over the years they worked at Oracle.”

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

The complaint also accuses Oracle of disproportionately recruiting and hiring recent Asian college graduates for low-level technical positions, “almost to the exclusion of qualified available graduates of any other race or ethnicity.” Over a four-year period, between 2013 and 2016, the DoL alleged that more than 90 percent of Oracle’s recent college graduate hires were Asian, even though less than 65 percent of the graduates recruited were Asian.

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The DoL’s complaint comes on the heels of a class-action lawsuit filed against Oracle that alleges the company paid women $13,000 less per year than men for the same work.

The class of employees represented in that lawsuit would include 4,200 female workers in the firm’s product development, information technology and support functions, according to Wired, which noted that most of the difference in earnings between men and women stemmed from bonuses and stock grants -- not necessarily base pay.

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