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Ex-Oracle African-American Female Engineer Testifies About Firing over Salary Review Request

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Dr. Alexander testified about her experience trying to obtain a salary increase and promotion at Oracle.

In the administrative trial over DOL’s claims that Oracle underpaid women and minorities, Dr. Nicole Alexander testified that when she requested a salary review, her manager yelled at her, passed her over for promotion and then fired her. Dr. Alexander is an African American woman who worked as a geographic information scientist and software engineer for Oracle for 18 years.

Dr. Alexander testified about her experience trying to obtain a salary increase and promotion at Oracle and how she was passed over for a white male colleague with fewer accomplishments. She said that when she sought a promotion in 2016, she pulled up the Glassdoor website and discovered through anonymously posted reviews and salary information that Oracle paid her about two-thirds or $50,000 less than what it paid other software engineers in the San Francisco area.

Upon this discovery, she emailed Oracle's human resources team and asked them to “discreetly” perform a salary review. Her manager, senior director of software development, Siva Ravada, found out that she sought a salary review and became very upset. She claimed that “he was really shouting at me, raising his voice and not letting me speak.”

Shortly thereafter, she received her first negative performance feedback in the 17 years working at Oracle. Also, the human resources department told her that it found no evidence that gender or race had been a factor in determining her compensation. Even though Alexander never received a promotion, Oracle did eventually increase her salary by $6,000 but it occurred two months before the company laid her off.

Even though three of her male colleagues received notice of the layoff, Alexander was not given notice or offered a transfer to another department within Oracle.

During the trial, Oracle’s senior director of diversity compliance, Shauna Holman-Harries, testified that Oracle had an AAP, but no centralized way to measure whether it was effective. She also admitted that her team never studied or analyzed Oracle’s compensation system or whether managers relied on employee’s previous pay in setting compensation.

Oracle’s senior director of human resources, Tamerlane Baxter, said that Oracle “has no overarching human resources policies or procedures for conducting workplace discrimination investigations.” She also said that prior to 2015 Oracle had no dedicated human resources staff to handle workplace investigations. Baxter said that “if an Oracle employee complains about pay discrimination to a manager, the company has no policy that requires the manager to inform human resources about it.” She continued by saying that “there is an expectation that managers will raise concerns to leadership and HR.”

In 2017, OFCCP sued Oracle alleging that it shorted women, African American and Asian workers more than $400 million in pay over a four year period.

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