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Silicon Valley firm sued over racial discrimination

The discriminatory procedures are alleged to have been used since 2010

The US Department of Labor is proceeding with an administrative action against Palantir Technologies over its alleged biased and discriminatory methods of recruitment; however, the claims that the company’s hiring procedures allowed for ‘systematic’ discrimination towards internal and external Asian applicants are being strongly denied.

The discriminatory procedures are alleged to have been used since 2010, with the Department of Labor looking to win back compensation for lost wages or promotions for the individuals affected.

The government has highlighted three instances where it is alleged that Palantir followed discriminatory procedures to systematically eliminate Asian applicants from the recruiting process.

  • 730 applicants applied for the role of quality assurance engineer and over three-quarters of the applicants were Asian. Of the seven successful applicants for the role, only one was Asian.
  • 1,160 candidates applied for a job as a software engineer. Over 80% of the applicants were Asian. Palantir hired 11 Asian staff and 14 non-Asian.
  • Three-quarters of the 130 applicants who applied for a quality engineer intern position were Asian. Of the 21 positions available, only four went to Asian candidates.

The lawsuit papers allege that the hiring process, which is conducted in four phases and includes screen and telephone interviews, eliminates Asian applicants despite them having the same level of qualification for the job as white applicants. According to US Department of Labor statistics, the odds of the Asian candidates being eliminated simply through chance in numbers that are so disproportionate to the number of Asians applying would be something in the region of one in 3.4 million.

The papers go on to claim that an employee referral system employed by Palantir has a big part to play in the disproportionate number of Asians being eliminated from the hiring process and that the four-phase hiring process has been followed from 2010 to the present.

A company that specialises in data mining and has been credited with helping the government to locate Osama bin Laden, Palantir voiced its disappointment in the Department of Labor’s decision to proceed, claiming that the allegations were based on flawed statistics. In a statement reported by the Wall Street Journal, Palantir, which says it celebrates difference and diversity on its website, explained that the government’s focus on the hiring for three staff roles between 2010 and 2011 did not reflect the full picture.

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