Palantir Rejects Labor Department Claims of Anti-Asian Bias

  • A 15-page response says government analysis is ‘flawed’
  • Agency had told Palantir to make amends or lose contracts

Data mining company Palantir Technologies Inc. rejected government claims that it used biased hiring practices resulting in Asians being underrepresented in its workforce.

A 15-page response filed Friday by the Palo Alto, California-based company said the Department of Labor’s analysis “hinges entirely on a flawed and illogical statistical analysis of data.”

The Labor Department alleged in an administrative suit last month that Palantir discriminates against Asian job applicants in its hiring and selection process. The agency’s review found that Palantir relied on a system of employee referrals, which, along with its resume and phone hiring process, resulted in bias against Asians.

Palantir, which counts the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security and about a dozen other government agencies among its clients, fired back, saying that the agency’s complaint suggests that Palantir “should have hired a workforce that matched the racial composition of the group of individuals whose resumes Palantir received, without regard to candidate qualifications. That makes no sense and, in fact, suggests that Palantir should have used an illegal quota system.”

Palantir argues that Asians are well represented across the company, with two of its four senior leaders identifying themselves as Asian. At least 37 percent of its U.S. product engineering team and 25 percent of Palantir’s entire workforce are Asian, the company said. Palantir also says the agency findings were a result of a random audit, conducted over a short period of time with incomplete data and not a result of any injured parties suing.

"We stand by the language in our original complaint," a Labor Department spokesman said in an e-mail.  

Palantir declined a request for further comment. In the filing, Palantir said it’s “disappointed that a negotiated resolution of this dispute could not be achieved, but it now stands ready to vigorously defend itself” against the claims.

When the Labor Department levied its charges, it said that if Palantir didn’t make amends, then government contracts -- which provide roughly half the company’s revenue -- would be in jeopardy. Claims of anti-Asian bias surprised many at the company and around Silicon Valley. Although there have been growing calls for diversity in the tech sector, the focus has largely been on women, African Americans and Latinos, who are less well represented in the industry.

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