U.S. Department of Labor Sues Palantir for Discrimination Against Asian Job Applicants

U.S. Department of Labor Sues Palantir for Discrimination Against Asian Job Applicants

Minami Tamaki LLP helps employees in the technology industry navigate workplace issues and ensure that their legal rights are protected.  We work to address issues of gender, race, and age discrimination in the tech industry, including inequities in the hiring process, pay discrimination, the “glass ceiling,” pregnancy and child-care discrimination, and sexual harassment.

A recent lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) has raised further questions of how the technology industry in Silicon Valley and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area is addressing diversity issues and ensuring fair treatment for their workers.

On September 26, 2016, DOL filed a Complaint against Palantir Technologies, a Palo Alto technology company, alleging systemic discrimination against Asian job applicants.  Palantir provides software and data analytics services under federal contract to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Special Operations Command and the U.S. Department of the Army.

DOL alleges that Palantir violated Executive Order 11246 by using a hiring process and selection procedures that routinely eliminated Asian applicants for software engineering positions on the basis of their race.  DOL alleges that Asian applicants were eliminated in the resume screen and telephone interview phases, and that Palantir hired a majority of applicants through a discriminatory employee referral program.

The DOL Complaint includes detailed allegations that Palantir discriminated against Asian candidates with regard to specific job openings.  DOL cites one example of a software engineer position where 85% of over 1,000 applicants were Asian, which resulted in Palantir hiring 14 non-Asian individuals and 11 Asians.   DOL states that “[t]he likelihood that this result occurred according to chance is approximately one in 3.4 million.” In another position where Asian applicants made up 73% of qualified candidates, the company hired 17 non-Asian applicants and only four Asian applicants.  DOL states that the likelihood that this result was random is approximately one in a billion.

The lawsuit is the result of a compliance review by DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.  “Federal contractors have an obligation to ensure that their hiring practices and policies are free of all forms of discrimination,” said Patricia A. Shiu, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.  “Our nation’s taxpayers deserve to know that companies employed with public funds are providing equal opportunity for job seekers.”

The lawsuit seeks lost wages, retroactive seniority and other lost benefits, interest, and an injunction against Palantir’s alleged discriminatory hiring policies and practices.

Palantir has denied the allegations in DOL’s lawsuit.

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