Google's lawyers successfully argued that handing over additional info on 21,000 employees was an overreach that endangered people's privacy, as the government has been susceptible to hacking.
The Labor Department should move more slowly and deliberately with its investigation, Berlin added, rather than demanding data in bulk while offering "nothing credible or reliable to show that its theory [.is] anything more than speculation".
The decision by Judge Steven Berlin said that a demand for data about Google employees made by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), a Department of Labor agency, is "over-broad, intrusive on employee privacy, unduly burdensome, and insufficiently focused on obtaining the relevant information".
Google denied the allegation, saying that the claim was made "without any supporting data or methodology" and noted that "the OFCCP representative claimed to have reached this conclusion even as the OFCCP is seeking thousands of employee records".
OFCCP had requested Google to provide employee compensation and other details dating back 15 years, as well as extensive personal employee data and contact information (names, addresses, personal emails, telephone numbers) for confidential interviews.
"Anyone alive today likely is aware of data breaches surrounding this country's most recent Presidential election", he wrote. Ransomware being used internationally is reportedly derived from tools hacked from our national security agencies.
A spokesman for the Department of Labor, meanwhile, did not immediately respond Sunday night to an email about its next step.
Finally, it wanted salary and job history starting from the employee hire date (1998 - Google's start - for some employees) in order to check if the pay disparity at Google was coming from negotiations at initial hire.
The 43-page decision could be finalized by as soon as the end of the month if an appeal is not filed in the coming week. "Contractors will be held to their promise to let [DoL] fully audit their employment practices", said Janet Herold, the department's regional solicitor.
The provisional order comes at a time of growing scrutiny of sex discrimination, racism, and sexual harassment across the tech industry.
"Assuming the recommended decision becomes final, we'll comply with the remainder of the order, and provide the much more limited data set of information the judge approved, including the contact information for a smaller sample of up to 8,000 employees", said Eileen Naughton, the vice president for people operations at Google, in a blog post.