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Oracle Worker Says She Was Told to Leave if She Wanted More Pay

Dec. 6, 2019, 9:09 PM

A former Oracle America Inc. employee testified Dec. 6 that she was told she would have to leave the company and later return to get higher pay.

Diane Boross, who worked for 11 years at Oracle as an interaction designer, revealed during an administrative trial the difficulties she experienced in getting a raise at the company. The Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs alleges Oracle paid women, Asian, and black employees less than their male, white colleagues, and steered them into lower-paying jobs. The agency claims Oracle owes women and minorities $400 million in what it says is “the biggest enforcement case” it’s ever brought against a federal contractor.

Boross said the hiring manager also asked for her salary history when discussing what she would be paid for her work at the company’s Redwood City, Calif., headquarters. She was offered about $100,000 in compensation in 2006, and said she thought she’d “compromised” too much when accepting that pay.

Boross went to her manager to discuss how she could raise her pay.

“He said to me that I would have to leave Oracle and return,” she said. “He did not indicate that there would be any other way.”

Boross was promoted two years later without a raise in pay. She said she finally got a raise eight years after she was hired and six years after she got the promotion. Boross received several bonuses over the course of her employment at Oracle.

The OFCCP began auditing Oracle’s headquarters for compliance with federal equal employment opportunity and anti-discrimination laws in 2014, finding what it called “gross” statistical pay disparities. Oracle has government contracts worth at least $100 million annually, the agency’s lawyers said Dec. 5 in the trial’s opening statements.

California made it illegal for employers to ask for prior pay, but that law didn’t take effect until January 2018. Although the OFCCP doesn’t enforce state employment laws, it brought as part of its suit a federal discrimination claim based on Oracle’s use of salary histories to set pay.

Oracle’s senior director of diversity compliance, Shauna Holman-Harries, testified Dec. 6 that the company doesn’t have a policy instructing managers to ask employees for prior pay.

She said employee compensation is determined in a “decentralized” manner, and managers evaluate pay to comply with OFCCP’s anti-bias regulations.

Oracle maintains that the OFCCP’s allegations of systemic pay discrimination are unfounded. Attorneys for the company said Dec. 5 that the agency’s claims are “entirely divorced” from how the company conducts its business.

The litigation against the Bay Area technology company has been pending for almost three years, and has been contentious. Administrative Law Judge Richard M. Clark, who is presiding over the case, has repeatedly admonished both parties for their conduct.

Just over a week before the trial was set to begin, Oracle sued the Labor Department in federal district court, alleging the agency’s administrative trial system is unconstitutional. Oracle hasn’t requested a stay in the administrative trial, pending the outcome of the parallel case.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paige Smith in Washington at psmith@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com

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