Oracle accuses Labor Department of overreach in discrimination cases

System 'violates the bedrock principle of separation of powers'

Oracle, the database software giant facing a federal discrimination complaint, is accusing the U.S. Labor Department of illegally making itself investigator, prosecutor and appellate court in such cases.

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The agency's system for handling claims that government contractors violated federal discrimination policies, matters that are handled by its Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, have created a coercive regime that operates outside federal law and constitutionally created courts, the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company said in a complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.

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"Without authority from any act of Congress -- indeed in contravention of congressional legislation -- a group of unelected, unaccountable and unconfirmed administrative officials have cut from whole cloth this adjudicative agency-enforcement scheme," Oracle said in the lawsuit, built around the government's handling of a complaint against the company during the last years of the Obama administration.

Oracle says it was working with Obama officials to resolve the matter prior to the 2016 presidential election and that after Donald Trump's victory, the company was given an ultimatum to make a settlement offer or face a lawsuit within the department's administrative system.

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While Oracle objected on Jan. 17, 2017, arguing that the Labor Department appeared "to be intent on filing a midnight complaint" moments before a change in administrations on Jan. 20, the agency began enforcement proceedings against Oracle the same day, according to the lawsuit. The Labor Department accused the company of paying white male employees more than women, black and Asian workers in the same roles

Redwood Shores, California, USA - February 22, 2011: Tall cylindrical buildings are home to the Oracle Corporation headquarters, located at 500 Oracle Parkway Redwood Shores, CA 94065 (iStock)

Oracle, which has received hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts, had refused to comply with routine requests for annual compensation data and employee discrimination complaints, the department said at the time.

The matter, which still hasn't been resolved, is slated for trial starting Dec. 5. The case rests on "false allegations, cherry-picked statistics and erroneous and radical theories of the law," Oracle said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Oracle says it's not challenging discrimination laws generally, noting that they "can play an important role in promoting equal employment," but wants them to be enforced fairly and constitutionally. While the Labor Department has the authority to refer complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the current system "violates the bedrock principle of separation of powers that forms the foundation of the federal government," the suit argues.

The company asks the court to rule that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' regime violates the Constitution, the Administrative Procedures Act and other laws and award the company costs and attorneys' fees from the litigation.

"The leadership at the Department of Labor has failed to restore balance to an unrestrained bureaucracy," Ken Glueck, an executive vice president at Oracle, said in the statement.

"We believe strongly in maintaining a level playing field in the workplace for all of our employees and remain proud of our firm commitment to quality in our workforce," he added. "This lawsuit seeks to ensure that employers such as Oracle are likewise entitled to a level playing field."

Fox News' Gregory Re contributed to this article.