Google and Record Keeping: The Spin Method

September 16, 2021

A number of years ago, I was working in Washington, DC, when I heard chatter in a meeting. Elsewhere in the same building a Labor Department group was trying to figure out why Google didn’t have employment records. My team and I were working in a unit of the Capitol Police and the information elicited a chuckle. Who knew if the info about Google’s inability to provide employment data was accurate or just a poke at the online ad vendor.

I thought about this anecdote when I read “Revealed: Google Illegally Underpaid Thousands of Workers across Dozens of Countries.” The write up explains in what seems a truthful way:

Google executives have been aware since at least May 2019 that the company was failing to comply with local laws in the UK, Europe and Asia that mandate temporary workers be paid equal rates to full-time employees performing similar work, internal Google documents and emails reviewed by the Guardian show. But rather than immediately correct the errors, the company dragged its feet for more than two years, the documents show, citing concern about the increased cost to departments that rely heavily on temporary workers, potential exposure to legal claims, and fear of negative press attention.

“Gee, we don’t have employment data” flashed across my mind. If the write up is accurate, today’s thought is “Gee, we can just try to hide this misstep.”

Seems as if there might be a pattern. I am not sure, but I do recognize selective memory, situational corporate governance, and ignoring rules and regulations.

Gee, what a surprise after a quarter century of regulatory indifference. Hard to believe? Nope. Just institutionalized behavior for a digital country perhaps?

Stephen E Arnold, September 16, 2021


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