The Department of Labor is suing Palantir, a secretive Silicon Valley startup that provides data analysis software to the federal government and private companies, accusing it of discriminating against Asian job applicants.
According to the suit, Asian applicants were “routinely eliminated during the resume screen and telephone interview phases despite being as qualified as white applicants with respect to the QA Engineer, Software Engineer, and QA Engineer Intern positions.”
A spokesperson for Palantir denies the allegations, telling us:
“We are disappointed that the Department of Labor chose to proceed with an administrative action and firmly deny the allegations. Despite repeated efforts to highlight the results of our hiring practices, the Department of Labor relies on a narrow and flawed statistical analysis relating to three job descriptions from 2010 to 2011. We intend to vigorously defend against these allegations.”
The complaint includes several instances dating to 2010 in which the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found Palantir discriminated against Asian candidates.
In one instance, a software engineer position had 1,160 applicants – 85 percent of whom were Asian. Palantir ended up hiring 14 non-Asian applicants and 11 Asians.
“The likelihood that this result occurred according to chance is approximately one in 3.4 million.” the lawsuit said.
In another position where Asian applicants made up 77 percent of 730 qualified candidates, the company hired only one Asian individual and six other non-Asian applicants. The chances of that result being random is one in a billion, argues the lawsuit.
The Silicon Valley company provides software and data analysis for clients including the FBI, the U.S. Special Operations Command, and the U.S. Army.
Since Palantir is technically a government contractor the company has to follow a nondiscrimination policy, the suit noted.