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Palantir Technologies to pay $1.6M-plus to settle hiring bias claims

By Cynthia L. Hackerott, J.D.

Federal contractor Palantir Technologies, a computer software and services company specializing in data analysis, has entered into a consent decree with the OFCCP to resolve charges that the company discriminated against Asian job applicants in its hiring process and selection procedures for three different engineer positions at its Palo Alto, California, facility. The consent decree requires Palantir to pay $1,659,434 in back wages and other monetary relief—including the value of stock options—to the affected class and extend job offers to eight eligible class members.

On September 21, 2016, the OFCCP filed an administrative complaint with the DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges (ALJ Case No 2016-OFC-9). The suit alleged, that as the result of a compliance review initiated in July 2011, the OFCCP determined that from January 2010 to the present, Palantir violated Executive Order 11246 by:

  • Using a hiring process and selection procedures that discriminated against Asian applicants for software engineering positions on the basis of their race.
  • Maintaining a hiring process in which Asian applicants were routinely eliminated in the resume screen and telephone interview phases despite being as qualified as white applicants.
  • Hiring a majority of applicants from a discriminatory employee referral system. The overwhelming preference for referrals, combined with the contractor’s failure to ensure equal employment opportunity for all applicants without regard to race, resulted in discrimination against Asian applicants.

Palantir provides software and data analysis 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, the OFCCP noted in a September 26, 2016 statement announcing the administrative suit.

On April 21, 2017, ALJ Steven B. Berlin entered an order approving the agreement. The consent decree states that Palantir denies the allegations and that the company presented the agency with an alternative statistical analyses, which the contractor asserts shows its hiring process for the three engineer positions at issue had no adverse impact on Asian candidates.

That disagreement was maintained in a statement provided to Employment Law Daily by a Palantir spokesperson on April 26, 2017. “We disagree with the allegations made by the Department of Labor,” the statement reads. “We settled this matter, without any admission of liability, in order to focus on our work. We continue to stand by our employment record and are glad to have resolved this case.”

“We appreciate Palantir working with us to resolve these issues,” said OFCCP Acting Director Thomas Dowd in an April 25, 2017 statement regarding the settlement. “Together, we will ensure that the company complies with equal employment opportunity laws in its recruitment, hiring and other employment practices.”