Google has agreed to pay nearly $5 million to female engineers it underpaid and Asian applicants that were overlooked for jobs due as part of “systemic compensation and hiring discrimination” at the tech giant.

The US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs identified pay disparities impacting female engineers at Google, and hiring rate differences that disadvantaged women and Asian applicants, as part of its routine work.

This “systemic’ discrimination impacted over 5,500 employees and job applicatants at Google’s offices in Mountain View, Seattle, and Kirkland, Washington.

As part of a settlement with the US government, Google has agreed to pay $US1.353 million ($1.777 million) in back pay and interest to 2,565 female engineers at the company who were allegedly the subject of pay discrimination.

The company will also pay $US1.2 million ($1.6 million) to 1,757 women and 1,219 Asian applicants for software engineering positions who were not hired.

The company has also been ordered to set aside $US1.25 million ($1.6 million) for pay-equity adjustments.

The office’s Federal Contract Compliance Programs director Jenny Yang said companies need to be regularly checking they are promoting equal opportunity in the workplace.

“Pay discrimination remains a systemic problem,” Yang said.

“Employers must conduct regular pay equity audits to ensure that their compensation systems promote equal opportunity.”

A spokesperson for Google told The Verge that the company undertakes yearly pay equity analysis studies to prevent similar incidents from occurring again.

“We believe everyone should be paid based upon the work they do, not why they are, and invest heavily to make our hiring and compensation processes fair and unbiased,” the Google spokesperson said.

“For the past eight years, we have run annual internal pay equity analysis to identify and address any discrepancies.

“We’re pleased to have resolved this matter related to allegations from the 2014-2017 audit and remain committed to diversity and equity and to supporting our people in a way that allows them to do their best work.”

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs regional director Jane Suhr welcomed Google’s willingness to work with the department and said all tech companies should now be on notice.

“The US Department of Labor acknowledges Google’s willingness to engage in settlement discussions and reach an early resolution,” Suhr said.

“The technology industry continues to be one of the region's largest and fastest growing employers. Regardless of how complex or the size of the workforce, we remain committed to enforcing equal opportunity laws to ensure non-discrimination and equity in the workforce.”

A survey late last year found that discrimination is rife across the tech sector, with unfair treatment over a worker’s age at the top of the list. The survey found that one in 10 workers in the tech sector have faced age discrimination.

Google has faced a number of internal revolts and issues with its workforce. In 2018, more than 20,000 Google employees walked out on their jobs in protest of the company’s handling of a series of sexual harassment allegations. Some of the organisers behind the protest have now left Google.

A minority union comprising employees and contractors was also formed earlier this year and now has more than 800 members.