Google knew it had systematically underpaid thousands of its temp workers, on a mass scale and in violation of local laws, and sought to hide that fact.
So alleges a June whistleblower complaint filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a report from the New York Times. That complaint, combined with internal emails obtained by the paper, show a company struggling to quietly remedy a problem without drawing wider attention to its actions.
At issue was the pay for temporary workers, which in some countries is required by law to match pay rates for full-time employees doing comparable work. Surprise, it allegedly didn’t. In order to bring the numbers detailed in the complaint up to snuff, the Times notes, a raise of 20 or 30 percent would have been required in some cases — and such a number, emailed a Google compliance office, was sure to turn heads.
“The cost is significant and it would give rise to a flurry of noise/frustration,” Google exec Alan Barry reportedly wrote. “I’m also not keen to invite the charge that we’ve allowed this situation to persist for so long that the correction required is significant.”
We reached out to Google for its response to these claims, but received no immediate response.
According to The Guardian, which also reviewed “internal documents and emails,” Google had been underpaying these workers for over two years. Spyro Karetsos, Google’s chief compliance officer, told the publication that the company intends to fix the mess it is alleged to have made.
“We’re doing a thorough review, and we’re committed to identifying and addressing any pay discrepancies that the team has not already addressed.”
We are talking a pretty substantial discrepancy. The Guardian writes that, according to the SEC complaint, the pay parity liabilities could be as high as $100 million.
Hopefully, some of those temp workers end up getting what may be legally theirs.