Government investigators looking into how Google pays its employees accused the tech giant of shortchanging women doing similar work to men.
A U.S. Department of Labor official disclosed the agency's allegations during a Friday court hearing in San Francisco.
"We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce," testified Janette Wipper, a Labor Department regional director, according to a report published by the Guardian.
Google said it vehemently disagreed with the allegation of gender discrimination, which the company said it hadn't heard until Wipper's court appearance.
"Every year, we do a comprehensive and robust analysis of pay across genders and we have found no gender pay gap," Google said in a statement.
Google — a subsidiary of Mountain View, Calif., company Alphabet Inc. — and other technology companies have been trying to improve hiring practices that have historically doled out most of their technical jobs to white and Asian men. Their efforts to strike a better balance have been mostly unsuccessful.
For instance, only 19% of Google's technology jobs are held by women. Overall, nearly one-third of Google's more than 70,000 workers are women.
The Labor Department's investigation evolved from a lawsuit filed in January seeking to bar Google from doing business with the federal government unless the company complied with an audit of its employee-compensation records. Google has said it has turned over some of the requested records but withheld other information that it believes would invade its workers' privacy.
Although Google and its peers have been disclosing embarrassing gender and racial imbalances in their workforces for the last few years, the technology industry so far has kept its compensation practices a closely guarded secret.
The Labor Department is now scrutinizing Silicon Valley for patterns of pay and hiring discrimination under its powers to vet companies that bid for lucrative government contracts. This year the Labor Department sued Oracle Corp., alleging that the maker of business software routinely pays white male workers more than their female and nonwhite counterparts.
4:55 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Janette Wipper and Google and with background information.