The US Department of Labor levied the fine, which will cover back pay for 391 California women who suffered "systematic pay discrimination" while employed at HP.
The irony bubbles up because HP's two longest-serving CEOs this decade were Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman. The fine includes interest, to be paid to the affected female workers.
Under the settlement, in addition to the settlement payment, the two arms of HP agreed to analyze compensation and take steps to ensure their employment practices follow US law. That accounting will include record-keeping and internal auditing, all to ensure HP's compensation practices are legal.
A Labor Department news release says HP has cooperated. But the arm that sells servers that replaced HP 3000s, Enterprise, says it disagrees with the allegations.
HPE has "settled in the interest of putting this matter behind us.” This enterprise HP, whose HQ address is now San Jose rather than Palo Alto, says it is “committed to unconditional inclusion, including pay equity regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation.”
The other HP, headquartered in Palo Alto, says "the charges in this case are without merit. We felt it was in the best interests of all involved to resolve this matter as quickly as possible through a voluntary settlement agreement. HP does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
The Hewlett-Packard that developed the HP 3000 might not have hired as many women as the newer HP arms. However, the classic HP never was investigated by the US government about hiring misdeeds.
The Labor Department alleges that through routine checks for compliance with employment laws, it found “disparities in compensation between male and female employees working in similar positions.” HP offices in San Diego and Boise, Idaho — the latter where HP board kingpin Dick Hackborn headquartered himself throughout the 2000s — as well as HPE offices in Houston and Fort Collins were the sites where illegal compensation was discovered.