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Palantir, known in Silicon Valley as the secretive big-data startup founded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, has filed a response to the Department of Labor after the agency sued the company alleging that Palantir discriminated against job applicants who are Asian.
According to the lawsuit, the company received more than 730 “qualified applicants” for its QA engineer position, 77% of whom were Asian, and hired six non-Asians and one Asian. It cited similar concerns about two other job titles – software engineer and QA engineer intern.
Palantir has sifted through all of its HR and applicant info and produced a data-filled response that it believes refutes the allegations, Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram reports.
Palantir says the suit ignores 41 other job titles for which the company hired people during the Labor Department’s 18-month analysis period. It says that 36% of people that it hired for those jobs in that time were Asian, and that 37% of its product engineering team and 25% of its total workforce is Asian.
The Labor Department contends that those figures don’t mean that Palantir didn’t use discriminatory hiring practices, but it is unusual for a Silicon Valley tech company to find itself in such a lawsuit.
In terms of diversity in most tech companies, Asian people tend to be overrepresented compared with the Asian population in the US, which is about 6%, according to the Census Bureau. African-Americans, Latin-Americans, and women stick out as the most underrepresented groups.
As Lev-Ram notes, this suit wasn’t a result of an employee complaint – it arose from the fact that, as a government contractor, Palantir must report its diversity statistics to the government.
Interestingly, Palantir has some experience with unusual government lawsuits.
The company is currently suing the US Army for the way it wrote the requests for proposal to build the Army’s next-generation intelligence system. It alleges the Army drafts its RFPs to favor its traditional IT contractors. Lots of companies file complaints after a contract is awarded, but this suit is unusual because it is challenging the bidding process itself before the next phase of the contract is awarded, Bloomberg’s Lizette Chapman reports.
Palantir has not responded to a request for comment.