Palantir pays $1.6m in hiring-discrimination settlement

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Palantir on Tuesday settled a claim that it had discriminated against Asians when recruiting new engineers, in the latest sign of how US regulators have taken on some of Silicon Valley’s hiring and pay practices.

Under the consent decree, which doesn’t involve an admission of wrongdoing, the private data-analytics company agreed to pay $1.6m and offer positions to eight extra Asian job applicants.

Though relatively minor compared to the scale of its business — Palantir has been valued at more than $20bn by private investors, making it one of the most highly rated private tech companies — the case is a sign of wider efforts by the Department of Labour to tackle claims of persistent bias against women and racial minorities in the tech industry.

Business software Oracle was sued earlier this year for favouring Asians in its hiring and paying white male employees more than others. And the Labour Department accused Google earlier this month of “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.”

The regulator filed a lawsuit against Palantir last year accusing it of accepting far fewer Asians than other job applicants. The company questioned the statistical validity of the Labour Department’s analysis and said it had singled out a small number of cases where it had received an unusually large number of applications from Asians. The company claims that people of Asian descent make up 35 per cent of its product engineers.

In a statement on Tuesday, Palantir said it “disagreed” with the regulator’s allegations and continued to “stand by our employment record. It added that it had settled “in order to focus on our work.”

Google has also claimed that its own analysis shows that it has abolished any pay gap between men and women. For its part, Oracle claimed the labor department legal action was “politically motivated, based on false allegations, and wholly without merit”.

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