Discrimination is a pervasive, troubling issue in every state and industry. And while it is something that workers have experienced for many years, discrimination is a subject that is particularly visible right now.

Recently, for instance, the Department of Labor investigated hiring and compensation practices at Oracle. The case has made national headlines, as the DOL has accused Oracle of discriminatory actions costing female and minority workers about $400 million in wages.

What the DOL found

According to reports like this one from CNBC, Oracle is accused of intentionally paying female and minority workers less than white males in the same positions. The company reportedly did this through one of two practices.

In some cases, Oracle reportedly would use an applicant’s salary history to set his or her initial pay. This practice can facilitate wage discrepancies, as it uses previous wages — which may have been unfair — to justify paying some workers less. Typically, these workers are women and minorities.

The other method was to “channel” these employees into career paths with lower pay. For instance, instead of putting these workers on a management track, they would encourage them to follow other paths with less financial reward.

While Oracle denies engaging in these practices, the DOL found that they resulted in a loss of more than $400 million for female and minority wages.

Identifying discrimination, wage discrepancies

As these allegations can show us, discrimination and wage violations are not always as blatant as people expect them to be. In some cases, they could be the result of certain policies or practices that may have a detrimental impact on worker wages over time. Or, employers could explain them using reasoning that a worker does not know is faulty.

Because of this, it can be very difficult for individual workers to identify and prove discrimination when it comes to wages. That said, it is certainly not impossible. Parties concerned about these issues can file a complaint and discuss their legal rights and remedies with an attorney experienced in employment law.