Microsoft’s LinkedIn social network has agreed to settle charges that it underpaid women in engineering, product, and marketing roles on a systematic basis.
The US Department of Labor (DoL) announced a settlement on behalf of 686 female workers in California on Tuesday. According to the government, an investigation performed by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs discovered that LinkedIn failed to offer equitable pay for women in its San Francisco and Sunnyvale, California, offices between March 1, 2015, and March 1, 2017.
LinkedIn was specifically accused of violating Executive Order 11246, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin in federal contracts. EO 11246 was issued by the Johnson administration in 1965 and has been revised several times since then. Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 are both referenced in the enforcement action.
The agreement applies to engineering and marketing positions at LinkedIn in San Francisco, as well as engineering and product positions at LinkedIn in Sunnyvale. The agreement calls for LinkedIn to pay affected workers $1.8 million in back wages and interest, to perform non-discrimination training for employees, and provide gender-neutral compensation for at least the next three years.
LinkedIn will also be required to alter its remuneration practices and procedures, as well as accept government monitoring to verify compliance with the federal agreement.
LinkedIn recognized the settlement – which is a pittance for the tech behemoth – while challenging the government’s assertions in a statement posted to its website.
“While we have agreed to settle this matter,” the statement stated, “we do not agree with the government’s claims; LinkedIn pays and has paid its employees fairly and equitably when comparing similar work.”
When it comes to challenging company pay practices, the DoL has not always won. Oracle was accused by the Department of Labor in 2017 of salary discrimination against female, African American, and Asian employees, as well as of favoring Asian personnel in recruitment. Three years later, however, the court hearing the case determined that the government had failed to substantiate its claim.
LinkedIn is a business and employment-focused internet service that operates through websites and mobile apps in the United States. The website, which was launched on May 5, 2003, is primarily used for professional networking and career advancement, and it allows job seekers to upload their CVs and companies to post jobs.
Since 2015, the majority of the company’s revenue has come from offering recruiters and sales professionals access to information on its users. It has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft since December 2016. LinkedIn has 774 million registered members from over 200 countries and territories as of September 2021.