Tag Archives: U.S. Department of Labor

Breach Brief – America’s JobLink Alliance

America’s JobLink Alliance (AJLA)  reported  a data breach exposed the sensitive information of job-seekers in at least 10 states. Hackers were able to gain unauthorized access to the names, Social Security numbers, and birth dates of millions of job seekers in their database. According to AJLA the breach occurred between Feb. 23 and March 14, 2017. The breach affects job seekers in the following 10 states Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oklahoma and Vermont.  According to the Idaho Department of Labor, as many as 4.8 million accounts may have been compromised nationwide.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provides the Kansas based AJLA to the states but the service is mangaged by a third party. AJLA is used to coordinate federal unemployment and workforce development programs across the country.

AJLA reported that on February 20 a hacker created a new account, then atacked a previously unknown a vulnerability to gain access to job seekers’ information.  AJLA technical support said in a statement that it first noticed unusual activity on March 12th, and confirmed the breach on March 21st.

The organization is working with law enforcement and contracted a forensic firm to identify what accounts were affected. “The firm has verified that the method of the hacker’s attack has been remediated and is no longer a threat to the AJLA-TS system,” AJLA stated.

The DOL is sending direct notification, via email or regular mail, to all customers whose accounts may have been compromised. The AJLA has also set up a toll-free phone number to call for information; 844-469-3939.

Department of Labor Sues Oracle and Google

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Oracle Corporation for discriminatory pay and hiring practices and Google for withholding pay and compensation data.

According to the DOL Oracle systematically pays white male employees more than minorities, women and Asians doing the same job. The suit goes on to accuse Oracle of favoritism in hiring Asian workers for technical and product roles over others applying for the same jobs.

Oracle is a federal contractor that  provides services, software and hardware to the U.S. government and is required to maintain equitable and fair hiring practices.

In response Oracle claims the suit is politically motivated. In a statement to TechCrunch.com an Oracle spokesperson said; “The complaint is politically motivated, based on false allegations, and wholly without merit. Oracle values diversity and inclusion, and is a responsible equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. Our hiring and pay decisions are non-discriminatory and made based on legitimate business factors including experience and merit.”

Oracle claims to have more that 400,000 customers in 145 countries. Oracle is second only to Microsoft specializing in developing and marketing database software and technology, cloud engineered systems and enterprise software products.

If Oracle is be found to be discriminating the cost could be significant. The company could have its federal contracts cancelled and face a ban on receiving future contracts from the federal government.

Google has some questions to answer as well. The DOL   filed a lawsuit seeking the release of compensation data from Google. Google was asked by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs  (OFCCP) to submit the data in 2015 but so far the Google has not complied. The data being demanded deals directly the company’s equal opportunity program and practices. Because Google is a federal contractor it is required to provide the information.

Unlike the Oracle lawsuit the DOL does not accuse Google of discrimination. Instead it alleges that Google failed to cooperate with the DOL as it conducted its audit. Instead the company sent a letter to the department declining to provide the asked for data. 

Federal contractor audits sometimes expose evidence leading to anti-discrimination lawsuits. Another government contractor, Palantir Technologies,  was sued last September by the Department of Labor for discriminating against Asian job applicants.

The suit against Palantir was set in motion after a compliance review by the OFCCP. The OFCCP found that Palantir had been in violation of  Executive Order 11246 since January 2010. The order details equal employment opportunities and non-discriminatory practices. The DOL alleges that Palantir’s hiring process “routinely eliminated” qualified Asian applicants for software engineering roles in the resume screening and telephone interview phases. Palantir is alledged to have hired a majority of people from its discriminatory employee referral system. Palantir denies the allegations.

Google claims to be withholding the information for privacy reasons. However the company has provided hundreds of thousands of documents in cooperation with the DOL audit. 

A Google spokes said in statement that; “We’ve worked hard to comply with the OFCCP’s current audit. However, the handful of OFCCP requests that are the subject of the complaint are overbroad in scope, or reveal confidential data, and we’ve made this clear to the OFCCP, to no avail. These requests include thousands of employees’ private contact information which we safeguard rigorously. We hope to continue working with OFCCP to resolve this matter.”

Diversity Continues to Elude Tech Industry

Image by Stuart Miles

For all the hoopla and declarations by companies promising to improve diversity not a lot is happening. As matter of fact some companies have delayed or outright resisted releasing certain diversity data.

According to the Wall Street Journal Twitter, Pinterest and Salesforce.com delayed their diversity reports for more than a year.

Salesforce.com finally released its diversity data in December. The numbers showed little has changed. According to the company the release was delayed to accomodate the hiring of a diversity leader. That job went to Tony Prophet who will focus on initiatives to bring greater diversity to the business software company. Prophet came over from Microsoft where he was was co-executive sponsor of Blacks at Microsoft and founding executive of BlackLight, an organization for black marketers at Microsoft.

Google and Facebook have tried to increase diversity but failed to make any real progress. According to TechCrunch.com  Googles’s chief of diversity, Nancy Lee, maybe leaving the company.

Lee joined Google in 2006 to focused on Google’s diversity efforts as the director of people operations in 2010 becoming vice president of that division in 2013. Lee managed to increase the number women in the company by one percent but the number of blacks and Latinos did not change at all.

Facebook’s diversity data is also nothing to brag about. The latest diversity report showed that only 2 percent of its U.S. workforce is African-American and only 4 percent are Hispanic. Facebook has made respectable progress in hiring minorities into leadership positions. According to the company 9 percent of new senior leadership hires in the U.S. are African-American and 5 percent are Latino. Women in leadership positions at Facebook has increased from 23 percent to 27 percent in a year.

But the lack of diversity is not the sole fault of the tech industry. There are other factors that must be taken into account.  Many black and Latinos computer science majors choose not to go into the tech field. Why?

According to the Census Bureau American Community Survey forty percent of Asian graduates pursued technology careers compared to only 16 percent of black graduates and 12 percent of Latinos. .

Ten percent of black computer science and engineering graduates end up with office, administrative support or accounting jobs, compared with 5 percent of white graduates and 3 percent of Asians.

Maya A. Beasley, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut studied U.S. Department of Education data for her book; Opting Out: Losing the Potential of America’s Young Black Elite.”  According to Beasley black students were less likely than white students to continue in the major if they felt that there were underperforming. In addition African-American students who stayed in the major were less likely to apply for technical jobs choosing instead to pursue nonprofit or business work instead. Others failed to seek out jobs in technology because of the percieved atmosphere and culture of technology companies as unwelcoming to blacks.

Beasley said; “Any student of color looking at the numbers from the tech giants is going to be turned off and wary about taking a job there because it tells you something about what the climate is. They don’t want to be the token.”

Another major issue is the recruiting process. Many tech companies are seeking talent at the top universities where blacks are not heavily represented. The pipeline to talented students does reach to many historically black universities.

Another issue in the hiring process is the interview. Black colleges may not be properly preparing black students to get the jobs. Technology recruiters conduct interviews by giving code writing candidates whiteboard interviews. A whiteboard interview consists of solving a problem by writing code on a whiteboard. Unlike Asian and white recruits black students are unprepared for this challenge.

Yet another obstacles may the student’s name. Research has shown that many recruiters shy away from black sounding names. This is a common problem among hiring mangers who may have an unconcious racial bias. 

Breaking It Down

How is it possible for a major university to find the most incredible black athlete in the most tragic schools and neighborhoods in the country but you can’t find a black student capable of learning computer science? How is this possible? That same questions applies to major tech corporations. High tech companies like Intel, Microsoft, Cisco and the hundreds of other should be able to apply the same search and recruiting skills that a college basketball or footbal coach uses to find capable recruits and apply them to your human resources recruiting. College and pro sports teams identify and track promising atheletes from junior high school to the day of the pro draft. Using extensive record keeping, and yes technology, to track and predict their potential. Why can’t technology companies do the same? Find these promising young men and women in middle school and groom them as your future workers. Get involved when they are young and show interest in their future. Get involved in black and minority schools, public schools. The model is there and the pay off could be huge. If you would just try.