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Palantir sued by Labor Department for alleged discrimination against Asian job candidates

The US Department of Labor is accusing controversial data-mining company Palantir of discriminating against Asian job candidates, according to a lawsuit filed today.

Asian applicants allegedly faced discrimination since at least 2010

According to the suit, the Labor Department's compliance office first began a review of Palantir's hiring practices in 2011 and found that, from 2010 until the present, Palantir systematically turned down Asian applicants in favor of white applicants.

In one case, according to the review, the 730-person applicant pool for an engineering position included 77 percent Asian candidates. Palantir, however, hired six non-Asian and just one Asian candidate. In another case cited by the Labor Department, a 1,160-person pool with 85 percent Asian candidates led to Palantir hiring 14 non-Asian and 11 Asian applicants.

"The overwhelming preference for referrals, combined with Palantir's failure to ensure equal employment opportunity for all applicants without regard to race, resulted in a discriminatory hiring process against Asian applicants," the Labor Department's complaint reads. An accompanying statement from the department says the suit was filed after a conciliation process failed.

"We are disappointed that the Department of Labor chose to proceed with an administrative action and firmly deny the allegations," a Palintir spokesperson told The Verge 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. We intend to vigorously defend against these allegations."

Palantir, known for its secretive government contracting work, often for intelligence agencies, could face major business problems stemming from the legal action. The suit seeks to end any discriminatory practices from the company, and asks for relief for those affected — including retroactive seniority, lost wages, and other employment benefits. But if that fails, the suit requests the cancellation of Palantir's lucrative contracts.

Update, September 26, 6:24PM ET: Includes Palantir statement.