Labor Department accuses data company of anti-Asian discrimination

The U.S. Labor Department is accusing a data mining firm of practicing discrimination against Asian applicants.

The lawsuit, which was filed against Palantir Technologies on Monday for alleged patterns of discrimination, comes after a failure to resolve problems during the conciliation process. It seeks to end the company’s discriminatory hiring practices and to give compensation to those who were affected, which includes lost wages and other benefits.

“Federal contractors have an obligation to ensure that their hiring practices and policies are free of all forms of discrimination,” Patricia Shiu, director of the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), said in a statement. “Our nation’s taxpayers deserve to know that companies employed with public funds are providing equal opportunity for job seekers.”

The OFCCP oversaw the compliance review of Palantir, that began in 2010, and saw that the company used hiring procedures that routinely discriminated against Asians.

In one of the examples given in the lawsuit, Palantir reviewed more than 730 qualified applicants  for an quality assurance engineer position, of which 77 percent of the applicants were Asian – Palantir hired six non-Asian applicants, and only one Asian applicant.

If Palantir fails to provide relief, the OFCCP requests to cancel the company’s existing contracts which include government contracts with the FBI, the U.S. Special Operations Command and the U.S. Army. It also asks to bar the company from future contracts.

The California-based firm is one of the most valuable private companies in the world, with a $20 billion valuation. It are best known for their work in helping the U.S. track down Osama Bin Laden.

Palantir denies the allegations and say it will “vigorously defend” against them.

“We are disappointed that the Department of Labor chose to proceed with an administrative action and firmly deny the allegations,” the company said in a statement. “Despite repeated efforts to highlight the results of our hiring practices, the Department of Labor relies on a narrow and flawed statistical analysis relating to three job descriptions from 2010 to 2011.”