The U.S. Department of Labor, in a federal filing on Tuesday, accused Oracle of underpaying thousands of people of color and women employees by more than $400 million. Employees with years of experience are paid as much as 25 percent less than their white male peers.
The computer tech company discriminates against Blacks, Asians, Latinos and women at its headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif.,” according to the filing. It states that Oracle underpaid more than 1,200 women employees by $165 million, more than 2,700 Asian employees by $234 million, and fewer than 30 Black technical workers by $1.3 million.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) claims that Oracle’s discrimination began in 2013 and continues to present day. The department oversees hiring practices by federal contractors, so Oracle’s more than $100 million in government contracts are in jeopardy.
Larry Ellison, co-founder of the company, stepped down as CEO in 2014 and serves as chairman of the board and chief technology officer. Since then, Mark Hurd and Safra Catz have shared the CEO title and lead the North America corporate executive team that has only one Asian leader and no Black leaders. Oracle has never participated in Fair360, formerly DiversityInc’s Top 50 competition.
In 2017, about 4,200 female employees filed the lawsuit, which alleges that base pay, stock grants and bonuses for women were much lower than men.
The Department of Labor’s updated complaint takes further examination by providing an analysis of Oracle’s hiring practices and the way people of color face “extreme” disparities during their career at the company.
The OFCCP claims Oracle strongly prefers hiring Asians with student visas for particular jobs as they are “dependent upon Oracle for sponsorship in order to remain in the United States,” and they could underpay them.
As a result, the company hires few Black or Latino workers.
“Once employed, women, Blacks and Asians are systematically underpaid relative to their peers,” the complaint said. “This underpayment is driven by many factors, including Oracle’s reliance on prior salaries in setting starting salaries and its steering of those employees into lower paid jobs.”
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 company claims the lawsuit “meritless.”
“This meritless lawsuit is based on false allegations and a seriously flawed process within the OFCCP that relies on cherry picked statistics rather than reality,” the company’s EVP and General Counsel Dorian Daley said, in a statement on Wednesday.
“We fiercely disagree with the spurious claims and will continue in the process to prove them false. We are in compliance with our regulatory obligations, committed to equality, and proud of our employees.”