Palantir to Pay $1.7M to Settle DOL’s Anti-Asian Hiring Bias Claims

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By Jay-Anne B. Casuga

Palantir Technologies agreed to pay nearly $1.7 million to settle Labor Department claims that the Silicon Valley company discriminated against a class of approximately 1,558 Asian job applicants, according to settlement documents obtained by Bloomberg BNA April 25 ( OFCCP v. Palantir Techs., Inc. , Dep’t of Labor A.L.J., No. 2016-OFC-9, consent decree approved 4/21/17 ).

The settlement follows a string of administrative lawsuits filed by the DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs against several technology companies in the final months of the Obama administration. The agency regularly audits government contractors for workplace nondiscrimination and affirmative action compliance.

OFCCP sued Oracle America Inc. in January for purported pay and hiring discrimination. It also sued Google Inc. for allegedly failing to submit certain employee pay data during an audit. Earlier this month, it resolved claims of sex bias in pay against Qualcomm Inc.

Historically, many of the OFCCP’s settlements involve hiring discrimination allegations on behalf of entry-level applicants for “blue collar” jobs, usually in manufacturing or clerical fields. Financial settlements involving hiring bias for “white collar” professional positions are less common.

The OFCCP filed its complaint against Palantir last September in the DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

Statistical analyses of company hiring data during an audit showed that between January 2010 and June 2011, about 73 percent to 85 percent of applicants seeking quality assurance engineer, software engineer and quality assurance engineer intern positions were Asian, the OFCCP alleged. But Palantir hired significantly more non-Asian applicants than Asians for each job, the agency said.

The majority of Palantir’s hires for the three positions came from an employee referral system that “disproportionately excluded” Asians, the OFCCP said.

In addition to paying the $1,659,434 monetary settlement, Palantir agreed to extend job offers to eight class members, as specific positions become available. The settlement was approved April 21 by an administrative law judge.

“We appreciate Palantir working with us to resolve these issues,” OFCCP Acting Director Thomas Dowd said in a statement issued late April 25. “Together, we will ensure that the company complies with equal employment opportunity laws in its recruitment, hiring and other employment practices.”

Palantir Planned to Fight

Palantir continues to disagree with the OFCCP’s allegations, a company spokeswoman told Bloomberg BNA in an April 25 email.

“We settled this matter, without any admission of liability, in order to focus on our work,” she said. “We continue to stand by our employment record and are glad to have resolved this case.”

Last October, Palantir responded to the OFCCP’s claims and argued that the agency’s complaint “hinges entirely on a flawed and illogical statistical analysis of data.”

The company said at least 37 percent of its U.S. product engineering team and 25 percent of its entire workforce are Asian.

It added that it stood “ready to vigorously defend itself” against the OFCCP’s allegations.

Palantir has received more than $377.5 million in federal contracts since fiscal year 2013, according to Bloomberg Government’s database of publicly reported government contracts.

The agency has had contracts with the Defense Department, the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga in Washington at jcasuga@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Christopher Opfer at copfer@bna.com

For More Information

The consent decree and order are available at http://src.bna.com/od6 and http://src.bna.com/od7.

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