13 February 2019 at 10:51 BST

Oracle in a watchdog fight

Oracle accuses government labour watchdog of 'secret' pact with plaintiffs' attorneys, and says existing claims 'doomed to fail.'

Oracle America claims the US labour department hatched ‘secret’ agreements with private plaintiffs’ attorneys to bring hiring and pay discrimination claims against the company.


The company was responding to allegations by the Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) that Oracle unlawfully underpaid women and minority workers and imposed an ‘extreme preference’ for hiring immigrant visa holders. Oracle asked an administrative law judge to reject the department’s request to file an amended complaint in a case stemming from a 2014 pay data audit of the tech company. In its filing the company stated, ‘OFCCP seeks to try this case in the press as a means of exerting pressure on Oracle, perhaps in coordination with private plaintiffs’ counsel prosecuting a civil action against Oracle that those plaintiffs admit piggy-back on OFCCP’s claims, and with whom OFCCP entered into a secret oral agreement to share information and work together.’ Oracle also raised concerns about ‘the impropriety of a federal government agency coordinating with private plaintiffs’ counsel to bolster their respective claims.’

'Doomed to fail'

The OFCCP entered into a confidential common interest agreement with private plaintiff’s attorneys in a separate case against Oracle in May 2018, agreeing to ‘share with the other certain documents, factual materials, mental impressions’ and other information. Oracle obtained the agreement from the plaintiffs’ counsel, the company’s lawyers told the administrative law judge. The private litigation also alleges pay discrimination at the Redwood City, Calif. headquarters, among female engineers. Oracle claims that the department doesn’t have the ability to alter its complaint, specifically questioning the agency’s targeting of pay practices. The filing states, ‘despite the passage of more than four years, only now does OFCCP seek to assert claims based on allegations of discriminatory job channeling and the use of prior pay,’ and concluded that ‘OFCCP added these new claims because it realizes its existing claims against Oracle are doomed to fail, and it therefore wants some alternative theories, ones for which it currently has no facts to support but hopes to develop through additional discovery.'


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