Many are accusing one of Silicon Valley’s hottest software companies of racial discrimination. Palantir is a data analytics company founded with the help of legendary investor Peter Thiel. The company is a darling among both industry analysts and customers. Many see it as having an incredibly bright future. This budding reputation will be seriously damaged, however, now that the United States Department of Labor is suing them for discrimination against Asian applicants.
According to the case, the company frequently screens out qualified Asian engineers before they even get a chance to interview. There is also evidence to suggest that the referral-based hiring system is racially biased.
Statistical analysis of Palantir’s hiring numbers shows clear evidence of hiring discrimination. For example, for one category of engineering job, the company received 1,160 applications from qualified candidates. 85 percent of these applications came from Asians, but the company only hired 11 Asians for the 26 positions. Statistical experts say that the chances of this happening as a coincidence are roughly one in 3.4 million.
Business Consequences of Racism in Silicon ValleyIf the case succeeds, the Labor Department recommends that the United States Government cancel all contracts with the company. Government agencies such as the FBI and the United States Military have been a major source of revenue for Palantir. This could deal a severe blow to the startup as it works to grow and seek funding.
The government has tried to work with Palantir in the past to improve their hiring practices, but a lack of progress has forced the Department of Labor to take action.
Discrimination is a Major Issue in TechnologyWe’ve already written a blog about issues with age discrimination in the valley. The industry is also known for its dismaying number of female and minority employees. Asian candidates are generally rather well represented, which makes this particular case somewhat unusual. Racial and gender discrimination are illegal in employment. Everyone who works hard and hones their professional skills deserves a fair opportunity to pursue their dreams.
If you have been the victim of racist or sexist hiring policies, you should seek the counsel of an experienced employment lawyer.