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Silicon Valley startup accused of discriminating against Asian job seekers

A government lawsuit has accused Palantir Technologies of systematically discriminating against Asian job applicants during the company’s hiring process. The lawsuit was filed with the Department of Labor Office of Administrative Law Judges. The department claimed it took legal action after several failed attempts to get Palantir to correct the violation.

According to the complaint, the data analytics company prevented the hiring of Asian applicants based on their race during an 18-month hiring process for several engineering positions. Beginning January 2010, Asians were “routinely eliminated” during resume screenings and phone interviews despite being “as qualified as white applicants.”

Investigators began examining Palantir’s hiring practices in 2011. They said although 85 percent of job seekers were Asian, ultimately only 11 Asian and 14 non-Asian applicants were hired. According to their findings, the chances of such an outcome were one in 3.4 million. In another instance, only one in seven individuals hired was Asian even though 77 percent of the 730 job applicants were Asian.

Palantir disputed the claims, calling the department’s analysis of the hiring data inaccurate. In its official response, the Palo Alto company pointed out that 25 percent of its workforce and 37 percent of its engineering team is Asian.

What makes this lawsuit unique is that it was not the result of complaints from employees or the applicants themselves. Instead, it was filed due to what the Labor Department calls a “neutral selection process.” As Palantir is a federal government contractor, the company is prohibited from discriminating against employees or applicants based on factors such as race, sex, national origin or disability.

The lawsuit is seeking lost wages for the applicants. In addition, the Labor Department has asked for Palantir’s current and future government contracts to be blocked until the company ends its alleged discriminatory hiring practices.

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