News

Palantir charged with discrimination against Asian applicants

U.S. Department of Labor suit could threaten Palo Alto company's federal contracts

Palantir Technology, the data-mining giant that has gradually become one of downtown Palo Alto's most visible tenants, was charged Monday with systematically discriminating against Asian job applicants for three positions, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

In a suit that could jeopardize Palantir's lucrative federal contracts, the department's Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP) alleged that the company has been using since at least January 2010 a hiring process and selection procedures that discriminates against Asian applicants for positions of quality assurance engineer, software engineer and quality assurance engineer intern.

The OFCCP reached its conclusion after a compliance review that it launched in July 2011 at the company's downtown office, at 100 Hamilton Ave., in its complaint. The Department of Labor estimates that Palantir had about $340 million in federal contracts since 2010. This includes software and data-analysis services for the FBI, the U.S. Special Operations Command and the U.S. Department of the Army.

The lawsuit, which was filed with the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges, seeks to nullify Palantir's existing federal contracts and bar it from signing new ones. It would “debar” the company's officers, agents, servants, successors, divisions and subsidiaries from entering into any federal contracts and subcontracts until it demonstrates compliance with Executive Order 11246, which requires government contractors to ensure equal opportunity in employment.

In making its case against Palantir, the OFCCP pointed to its own data about the company's hiring pools and decisions. For the quality assurance (QA) engineer intern position, the pool of applicants had more than 130 qualified applicants, 73 percent of whom were Asian. The company hired 17 non-Asian applicants and only four Asian applicants, according to the suit.

"The likelihood that this result occurred according to chance is approximately one in a billion," the suit states.

For the other two positions, the odds were less astronomic, but still long enough to raise flags. For the quality assurance engineer position, the pool had 730 qualified applicants, about 77 percent of whom were Asian. Palantir hired six non-Asian applicants and one Asian applicant, according to the lawsuit. The odds of that occurring by chance are about one in 741.

For the software engineer position, Palantir received applications from 1,160 qualified applicants, about 85 percent of whom were Asian. The company hired 11 Asian applicants and 14 non-Asian ones. The suit states that the odds of this result occurring by chance are roughly one in 3.4 million.

One problem, according to the complaint, is Palantir's four-phase hiring process, in which Asian applicants were "routinely eliminated during the resume screen and telephone interview phases despite being as qualified as white applicants with respect to the QA Engineer, Software Engineer, and QA Engineer Intern positions." The company's policies for referral of new employees exacerbated this trend, the suit states.

"In addition, the majority of Palantir's hires into these positions came from an employee referral system that disproportionately excluded Asians," the lawsuit states. "The overwhelming preference for referrals, combined with Palantir's failure to ensure equal employment opportunity for all applicants without regard to race, resulted in discriminatory hiring process against Asian applicants."

The suit states that the company had several opportunities to address its hiring deficiencies before enforcement proceedings began. Both the OFCCP and the Office of the Solicitor had attempted to secure Palantir's voluntary compliance through conciliation, the suit states. After efforts at voluntary compliance proved unsuccessful, the OFCCP sent Palantir a notice in October 2015, requesting the company to show cause for why enforcement proceedings should not be initiated.

In addition to canceling current contracts and preventing future ones, the suit seeks to require Palantir to provide "complete relief" to the affected Asian applicants, including "lost compensation, interest, and all other benefits of employment resulting from Palantir's discriminatory failure to hire them, including, but not limited to, retroactive seniority." The OFCCP is also requesting an order requiring the company to hire Asian applicants from the affected class list.

In a statement, OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu said that federal contractors "have an obligation to ensure that their hiring practices and policies are free of all forms of discrimination."

"Our nation’s taxpayers deserve to know that companies employed with public funds are providing equal opportunity for job seekers,"Shiu said.

Palantir disputed the allegations. In a statement, company spokeswoman Lisa Gordon said Palantir is "disappointed that the Department of Labor chose to proceed with an administrative action and firmly deny the allegations."

"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," Palantir's response states. "We intend to vigorously defend against these allegations."

The company's website emphasizes its commitment to workplace diversity. To access the broadest and fullest set of ideas, the website states, "Our community must attract and encourage people of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences."

"We work every day to build a truly diverse workforce, and to foster an environment that is respectful and receptive to new ideas," the company states. "We celebrate difference and diversity -- of background, approach and identity."

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Comments

31 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 27, 2016 at 9:53 am

Does "Asian" mean citizen of an Asian country or American citizen of Asian descent? There is a huge difference in employment laws for Americans vs non-Americans. Unfortunately, sloppy reporting frequently confuses the issue.


18 people like this
Posted by thread
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:09 am

There are already 2 other threads on this topic on PAO. (PAO's article came out well after those of many other news outlets, which reported the story yesterday.) It would be helpful if those comments could be moved here.


8 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:11 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@resident - Do you think the US Department of Labor was unaware of these unemployment laws when they filed teh lawsuit?


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:22 am

@john_alderman - of course the Feds know the law. My question is that the reporting may have misinterpreted what actually happened.


13 people like this
Posted by Surprised
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:23 am

Wow.... overt racism in the heart of Silicon Valley and from a Tier One startup no less.


41 people like this
Posted by Chinese American
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:28 am

Maybe they want Asians who are born in America whose first language is English. There is a communication issue with Asian immigrants. There can be misunderstandings due to the language barrier. In addition, sometimes they start talking in their native tongue with each other which excludes other employees who speak English only and this leads to divisiveness in the company instead of unity. This would make sense in a business aspect. However, the Asians have a strong STEM culture so they are missing out on some excellent engineers. I guess if they can hire comparable engineers who speak English as a first language, then those would tilt the scale.


54 people like this
Posted by Confused
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:42 am

So it looks like they hired 16 Asian applicants out of a total of 37 hires. That's a rate of hiring that is over 40% Asian, which is much higher than the number of Asian residents in California. If their applicant pool was 85% Asian, what would be the appropriate level of hires to make?

Obviously, there are a lot of great Asian software engineers in the Valley, and Asians are overrepresented among software engineers. But even Google and Facebook, while heavily Asian, are not 85% Asian.


20 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:54 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@resident - PAO has done a good job, and linked directly to the lawsuit so we can read it ourselves. It has been reported by numerous sources today, so I don't think there is any confusion over what happened. Palantir got caught building an old fashion white bro company. Here is the New York Times article:

Web Link

@Chinese American - The lawsuit notes that qualified asians were often screened out at the resume level, so there is no "language" justification. BTW, not hiring asians because they don't like the accent isn't going to be a good defense for them in court.


27 people like this
Posted by Chinese American
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 27, 2016 at 11:26 am

@john_alderman: Asian immigrant names are easy to spot versus Asian names of those born here, so yes, they could screen them at the resume. And my posting doesn't state anything about an accent. My posting refers to the communication barrier of someone who is ESL versus someone who has spoken English as a first language. Idioms, interpretations, cliches, etc. can get lost in translation.

I lived for decades in all-white communities and have experienced racism but this is not racism. Why do people always scream racism when it's not? They are hiring people who would work well together and that's no crime. Why would they bypass some genius engineers who would help their business? How about white communities? Who gets cut when racism can't be blamed? "Only blue-eyed people need apply"? They cannot hire everyone who submits a resume.

Confused makes a good point, that they hired over 40% Asian.


32 people like this
Posted by Lila
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Do Palatir employees ever examine their own morals? Many fancy themselves as libertarians yet work for a Corp doing the dirty work for the dirtiest part of the security state. Hypocritical.
Think again about a life of right livelihood. Hobbits - hardly.
Now pay the price for shameful discrimination.
Palo Alto deserves better.


32 people like this
Posted by Commonsense
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Is This Pat Burt's latest attempt to get rid of Palentir?


22 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2016 at 12:49 pm

How many lawsuits has the Dept of Labor filed for discrimination against Asians? I'm guessing this is pretty rare and Labor must have some compelling evidence to bring this action. Losing Federal Contracts would be devastating for Palantir so I'm guessing they are going to settle out of court without admitting wrong doing.


41 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 27, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Why is the Department of Labor involved with this? Palantir works on classified programs. By definition anyone working there has to go through a background check for security clearances. Having been in that situation people who come from Asian Countries get doubled checked if a recent arrival - as the countries will blackmail the individuals to get classified data.
Where are the government agencies that support the classified world? Why aren't they exercising their rights in this matter? The background checks are done by an independent government agency so my guess is that the people applying can't pass a security check. This is not being managed correctly by Palantir or the Dept. of Labor.


23 people like this
Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 1:02 pm

The elephant in the room in this story is the current climate of irrational fear of people from China taking over our schools, neighborhoods and jobs. So the distinction between "Asian American" and Chinese national is important in this discussion.
Regarding the lawsuit, I know of at least one major high tech co. that expressly bans hiring of Chinese nationals for jobs that involve nat'l security and defense government contracts. I don't know if this is a legal requirement or a subjective choice based on lack of trust of the Chinese govnm't; either way, it is one example of an exception to equality in hiring which is permitted.
@John Alderman-the NYT article states that the lawsuits claims applicants were screened out at the resume AND telephone interview process. As an ESL Consultant who works at major high tech companies, I have seen first hand how the language barrier leads to miscommunication and frustration between native and second language English speakers. Google and Facebook are among the local companies that offer ESL training programs, during business hours, to help language learners, about 80% of whom are Chinese nationals, bridge this linguistic and cultural divide, and to support an "English only" workplace.


51 people like this
Posted by Somethings Amiss
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Somethings Amiss is a registered user.

It sounds like they have hired a good number of Adians so far. Many too many unqualified Asians applied. They can't hire every applicant-/ there is always a systematic process of elimination. It starts at the resume level and keeps going until they find the best applicant...

That said, since the late 1980's, there have been a lot is Chinese and Taiwanese, as well as Russian, spies in Silicon Valley. I remember a few arrested at Lockheed in 1988 and 1998, and much more recently at Intel and Cypress. Lawrence Livermore Labs as well as Sandia Labs in NM had NATURALIZED citizens, born in Taiwan, arrested as spies.

One man at Apple came under suspicion because his wife was a Japanese citizen.

Even Google has had spying problems from turncoat employees from Russia.

I think the entire high tech industry has probably become paranoid about Asian and Russian employees, and Palantir deals with issues that affect national security!

My guess, not a fact, but a guess, is that Palantir fears what would happen if any of their employees turned out to be a spy. Palantir is known to have a culture of secrecy and paranoia anyway.

Perhaps some disgruntled, rejected applicants decided to get even by getting together and filing a class action lawsuit, or by making phony, trumped-up reports to the Dept of Labor. It happens quite a lot!


45 people like this
Posted by explanation?
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 27, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Perhaps systematic discrimination against Asians is behind Palantir's heavy-handed attempt to muzzle employees described at this link?
Web Link


54 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2016 at 1:49 pm

"The Department of Labor seeks an order that would cancel Palantir’s existing government contracts and block future contracts until the company fixes its alleged discrimination issues. Such an order could have a major impact on the company, which does frequent business with the federal government."
Maybe we won't need to build so much high density housing in Palo Alto after all.


34 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm

What is it you do not get here - In the world of classified programs you must have people that have gone through a security clearance process. If the company is found to have people working on classified programs that have no clearances them they are disqualified from further classified business. They are accredited as to the security level they are allowed to work at. There are outside agencies in security world that audit who is working on what programs and the security level of those individuals.

So what is the real story here? Did Palantir get caught in a security breach and now are excluded from further bidding on classified programs? And the Department of Labor is just a convenient excuse? The story at the top level makes no sense so there is a story here that is not being told.


62 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2016 at 2:13 pm

This is not the first Palantir scandal. Scandals like this are bound to happen when you run a company like a frat society ...

Web Link
Web Link

It is said these guys do have some influence.


22 people like this
Posted by American citizen
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 27, 2016 at 2:20 pm

What does Asian American really mean? Does it include South East Asians (a.k.a Indians) as well?


10 people like this
Posted by modern day witch hunt
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2016 at 4:30 pm

"That said, since the late 1980's, there have been a lot is Chinese and Taiwanese, as well as Russian, spies in Silicon Valley. I remember a few arrested at Lockheed in 1988 and 1998, and much more recently at Intel and Cypress. Lawrence Livermore Labs as well as Sandia Labs in NM had NATURALIZED citizens, born in Taiwan, arrested as spies."

And some of the most prominent arrests were found to be unwarranted.

Web Link


36 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@resident - I think what you don't get is the vast majority of Palantir's work is non-classified. They find unregistered AirBnB units in NYC so the city can drum up some revenue. They are a boring, racist, big data company that hides behind a PR story about classified data so they can muzzle their employees, and have an excuse not to talk to the press. Classified work is compartmentalized, and the Dept of Labor is fully capable of looking at whether the employees who were discriminated against were actually eligible for the job. That's the first thing they do in the investigation!

What happened is simple, they got caught red handed with their Silicon Valley Bro culture, refusing to hire Asians. And let me remind all the posters throwing around the "spy" and "communication problem" nonsense, that half the PAUSD students are now Asian, and you are slandering those kids. Go stand in front of the Gunn graduating class and tell them that only the white students are fit to be employed at Palantir, because the Asians might be spies, and can't communicate as well. Some of the posts here would be more at home in Selma Alabama in 1965 than Palo Alto in 2016.


41 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 27, 2016 at 5:55 pm

@John Alderman - I disagree with you.
Chinese American is correct in assessing the importance of clear spoken language. In addition, the electronic amplification & transmission of phone communication accentuates nuances of speech, including accents.

I am a certified TESL teacher & have taught adults from many countries for years. I also work with many newly arrived Chinese & Japanese nationals as a consultant for a huge international company. Most of these employees are young software engineers. Their strong accents & lack of idiom make many ordinary business dealings quite difficult, from locating housing to opening bank accounts or arranging utility services. Many of the students at Gunn were sent here by their families in China to learn English within the English programs offered there for non-native speakers. Some even arrive here alone, without adult family members.

It is widely known among the TEOFL & TESL communities that the ability to learn to speak any foreign language without a noticeable accent becomes difficult, if not impossible, after puberty. Yes, all those hormonal changes do "fix" certain neural pathways affecting language as well as the other physical changes. It isn't unusual for siblings who moved to other countries with their parents at the same time to have noticeably different accents, or lack of same, in their new locations based on age at time of arrival. A 10 year old child moving to the U.S.& learning English at school will have no foreign accent by age 16 while the older siblings who arrived at ages 15 or 16 will almost always have some some accent, for life. This applies to European languages as well.


13 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 6:19 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@ Chip - What is racist about your opinion is you are assuming that Asian Americans have poor language skills and you are assuming that they are immigrants, who are still learning english when the reality is you have no idea how many are native born perfect English speakers. Furthermore, you also assume that all the white applicants are native speakers even though Palo Alto has many French, German, Spanish, Italian, Israeli, Turkish, Danish, etc... caucasians who have as much of an accent as any asian.


51 people like this
Posted by Palantir is Sleazy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2016 at 7:06 pm

[Post removed.]


48 people like this
Posted by A bigger issue
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 27, 2016 at 7:28 pm

A much much bigger issue is age discrimination. People over 50 get laid off and can not get a job.


34 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 7:36 pm

I wonder if anyone would be honest or candid enough to mention how
in Silicon Valley there are lots of groups, companies and empires that
do more or less the same thing. As soon as someone becomes a
manager or gets a bit of power and authority they begin to use whatever
means necessary to build a stable network, and that often includes
people of their own "culture" however you want to characterize it.

I've seen Chinese and Indians hire and fire or review preferentially
in Silicon Valley companies for a long time. I've seen professors in
classes and departments from certain ethnic groups treating students
preferentially. I don't know if there is an answer to it, but right now it
seems to be that the only way this can be discussed or taken seriously
is when it is Caucasian based.

I know this is a problem from different points of view. There are very
few black employees in Silicon Valley, and there are cases where
white people, particularly older white people, and even while men
are discriminated against ... and even for.

There are problems all around these issues and they ought to be
more fully defined and developed that just always blaming the white
"bro" network as someone described. In many places the only people
doing the correct thing are a few white people who try to get diversity
and cooperation going while many minorities rightfully perhaps hold
a grudge against a system that is trying to change, and then they do
the same thing.

Whoever said change was easy?


11 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 27, 2016 at 9:03 pm

John - I do not know anything about Palantir's contracts other than what has been implied here. And the implication is that they were doing classified work. If they have contracts for unclassified work that would be in a different building. The problem would be the inside data management system could be compromised.
Also they tend to put new people on an unclassified effort while they go through the security clearance process so that they can be transitioned onto the classified efforts once they get through that process successfully. If anyone looks like they cannot get through a security clearance review then there is little point in hiring the person. And that could be anyone of any color or race. Security clearance is not specific to race - it is specific to meeting criteria required by the government agency. The security clearance process is handled by a government agency so not a Palantir directed process.


13 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 9:21 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@resident - If you don't know much about Palantir, why are jumping in to support them? You asked why the Department of Labor was involved. The answer is that Palantir signed a contract with the government in which they agreed not to discriminate by race. The Department of Labor will periodically review hiring practices of government contractors.They are of course, aware of the job requirements, including required security clearances. "We have some classified work" isn't a blanket excuse to not hire minorities. Palantir blatantly violated the agreement with a clear anti-asian bias in hiring.

Substitute black or hispanic for asian in this story, and people would be picketing in front of the Palantir offices. Try this statement out and see how horrible it sounds, "We don't hire hispanics because they don't communicate well and they could be spies for Mexico."


21 people like this
Posted by Chp
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 27, 2016 at 9:35 pm

@john alderman-
What I said has nothing to do with race & clearly states the difficulties late-learners of English may have compared to early learners or native speakers, as Chinese American also pointed out. Nowhere in my comments did I assume that Asian Americans are all immigrants. I pointed out the differences in speech based on when anyone learns a foreign language.
You, j-a, will not speak any language that you begin to learn now without an accent. It may be mild or strong, but you'll not be mistaken for a native speaker. If you had read my comment, or understood it, you'd note that I included Europeans as non-native English speakers in my information which applies universally. There were no racist insinuations in my remarks and you should apologize. Reread my post, the whole post, instead of leaping to a conclusion which is exactly opposite of what I said.


34 people like this
Posted by Asian Palantir Applicant
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:12 pm

I'm Asian and I applied for an engineering position at Palantir around 2012.

To be honest I didn't feel discriminated against at all. The process was comparable to the interview processes at other tech companies in the area - like Google. I know firsthand.

Heck, I remember a white person interviewing me, a black person, and an Asian person. I don't think skin color was a factor whatsoever.

I even got to interview with one of the co-founders, Stephen Cohen. I felt like he treated me fairly.

Palantir might get a bad rap around here but as someone who actually went through their interview process (and as a Palo Alto resident for 5+ years), I don't believe they actively discriminated against Asians.

Happy to vouch for them and I don't even work there.


18 people like this
Posted by Chinese American
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:19 pm

I guess I should have made my alias, "Chinese born here" instead because Asian immigrants who are citizens label themselves Asian Americans.

Per john_alderman's assertion that one cannot identify if an Asian is an immigrant or not, it's quite obvious by their appearance and clothing even before they open their mouths. I am just stating what is quite obvious to me but perhaps not obvious to non-Asians. There are some times that even I have problems understanding thick Asian accents even though I associate with Asian immigrants often.

Also, I think most non-Asians don't realize that there is different status level depending on the country of origin of the person, whether from China, Japan, Korea, etc. And even within those countries, there are different levels of status.


22 people like this
Posted by Guest
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:27 pm

Pretty surprised not to see the targeting of Peter Thiel as the obvious rationale here. They couldn't use the IRS again so had to find another agency.


8 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:28 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Chp - What's racist about your assumption is that you are using stereotypes about a pool of workers who were discriminated against solely because of their race. You don't know the details about their language skills or citizenship status, but because you read the word "asian" you are bringing in your own biases about communication problems or chinese students dumped at Gunn.


3 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:40 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Chinese American - I'm well aware of the different status level depending on the country of origin of the person, and it is pretty awful. But more importantly, something that has no place in hiring!

Also, you said "Asian immigrant names are easy to spot versus Asian names of those born here." Totally true - and if Palantir were trying to illegally screen out asians job candidates, it is probably something they were doing. If you were serious about hiring qualified candidates, you'd need to talk to them.

BTW, I never said "one cannot identify if an Asian is an immigrant or not". I said you can't judge language skills from a resume. - and we are talking about a pool of resumes that have already been determined to show qualification.


27 people like this
Posted by Chinese American
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:44 pm

"@john_alderman: Re your comment, "Substitute black or hispanic for asian in this story, and people would be picketing in front of the Palantir offices."

Yes, Chinese since the beginning of their immigration have never complained as other cultures have. They put up with it and just work harder. They appreciate the opportunities of America and are successful by the end of the first generation. Two jobs? Yes. Working as a janitor to make ends meet? Yes. Gambling the money on opening a restaurant? Yes. They have only complained regarding the issue of college acceptances and were fairly quiet about it. So it's possible that there is some real scoop in this lawsuit since the culture doesn't complain much.


22 people like this
Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:46 pm

To address the confusion between whether the suit involves US Citizens vs HB-1 visa holders or other visiters, the lawsuit is most likely being brought by Asian Americans (citizens) who speak English as a first language. This case is reminiscent of the current lawsuit against Harvard for racial discrimination against qualified Asian American applicants. Unfortuantely, it is difficult to prove racial discrimination when there is an over abundance of qualified applicants from all racial backgrounds. Web Link


18 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 28, 2016 at 6:02 am

I am not supporting Palantir I am supporting the system by which classified programs are handled in a specific set of requirements regardless of who the company is or who the people are - race is not a qualification here. So what is a big issue about the current political race is the mishandling of classified information. That is a big issue in the current political race which shows a disregard for the protection of the systems which are in place to protect that information. If Palantir is in the business of producing classified data as part of their corporate overall business then they should be able to function in that arena with the best strategy for being successful.


22 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2016 at 11:10 am

-- So it's possible that there is some real scoop in this lawsuit since the culture doesn't complain much.

Uh ... sounds like a stereotype to me. I thought we were against those now?


37 people like this
Posted by Evil Company
a resident of University South
on Sep 28, 2016 at 1:24 pm

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Chinese American
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 28, 2016 at 1:29 pm

@Plane Speaker: Don't expect racism to ever end. People think it but just don't say it publicly. Sure, people are still cordial in person, but how many people actually want different ethnicities as buddies to invite over for dinner, vacation with, etc? It just doesn't work that way and never will. People stick with those they have the most in common with and that begins with culture. Sure, there may be some anecdotes, as my husband's best friend is African-American. But in the big picture, my statement rings true for adults (children hang with everyone).

Don't expect Chinese to be sitting for the national anthem, picketing, looting or rioting.


10 people like this
Posted by inner peace
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2016 at 2:10 pm

I feel sorry for the applicants who were potentially discriminated against but OMG now all of the families that work in the companies that support this company will have their chain yanked pretty hard when all of those contracts vanish. To me that is more unfair. Why not level some sort of EDD version of sanctions? Common sense? rsarch.org


2 people like this
Posted by pa_live
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2016 at 4:21 pm

It's truly amazing how some folks refuse to believe the obvious and stay hung up on assumptions. One of the comments above stated that "it must be the Asian Americans who brought the lawsuit" -- when even a cursory glance at all the articles would be sufficient to understand that it's DOL that brought the lawsuit.

Also, someone is asking "are Indians included in Asian American group too?" Seriously, does it matter? Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination.


8 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2016 at 4:24 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@inner peace - Hopefully the companies that support Palantir can find new work with businesses that don't have racist hiring practices.

@Chinese American - Do you have kids in PAUSD? On the positive side, tons of interracial parents, so that means lots of dinners with buddies that cross racial bounds every night. On the negative side, kids actually do often seem to segregate themselves.


13 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 28, 2016 at 7:07 pm

Why is everything now classified as racist? I come from large international companies that have all combinations of people. The work relationship is based on skill sets - can you do the job assigned and work with other people on a team. We have all worked together for 35 to 40 years and we are proud of the products and the company. We are proud of the people we work with. No one is getting ahead because of some outside requirement - it is based on education, skills for the job, and good team work. Large companies achieve that by instilling good management. My hat is off to the companies that I have worked for in the LA and bay area for their excellence and the people who work there.


1 person likes this
Posted by Accuracy
a resident of University South
on Sep 28, 2016 at 8:16 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


5 people like this
Posted by Carlitos waysman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2016 at 9:24 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2016 at 9:44 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Accuracy - I agree, to rehash the accusations is unfair (I won't even repeat them). However, to be accurate, he was also the mentor of the undergrad who accused him. There was never a trial, they dropped their mutual lawsuits before trial. Stanford did a Title IX investigation and banned him initially, but then reversed it as more information came out.

But, "Trolling Stanford for girlfriends" isn't far off from the truth, or even disputed.


6 people like this
Posted by Chinese American
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 29, 2016 at 12:15 am

@john_alderman: My statements aren't all about me. My kids were in PAUSD and we do have some friends of different ethnicities because we live in intellectual Palo Alto. But we are in a bubble here - you didn't realize that? No, kids do not segregate; they are more open-minded than parents who segregate more.

Carlitos waysman: "And stop that holier than thou attitude." So true!


2 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 29, 2016 at 2:36 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Carlitos waysman - "Maybe they don't trust Asians" Being racist isn't illegal and there is no law against posting racist comments online. Freedom of speech!

But if you are in charge of hiring, especially if you are in a contract with the government that says you can't discriminate based on race or national origin, then you need to leave the racism at home. Palantir failed to do that. Nothing holy about legal compliance.


10 people like this
Posted by Be positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 29, 2016 at 7:53 am

Be positive is a registered user.

If you read the article, the problem was caused partly because palantir relied heavily on employee referrals. In my many years in the business world, my best employees were referred by fellow employees.


16 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 29, 2016 at 8:11 am

The San Francisco Chronicle today in the Business section - "YAHOO downplayed hacking threat" is an extensive article about the requirement for security and uses examples of Google, Facebook, and Yahoo as to how they are managing the issue of security and the costs associated with it. It is noted that Yahoo was subject to a major hacking scandal by the Chinese military at the time of Mayer's arrival and now currently is in a security breach. If you don't understand the cost associated with security then this is a helpful discussion of the cost associated with it. It can make or break a company and the participants in that company business - personal or government related.

Palantir is in the business associated with security and is therefore required to heavily fund the activities associated with secure systems. That is their main business activity. So why is the government focusing on them? Why is there a lawsuit on this topic? They are a private company - not on the SEC wave length so there is something else going on here that does not make sense.
Bottom line is Palo Alto keeps putting their nose out to the NYT, media and others and invites this type of political activity. Can you all just learn to keep the business of Palo Alto and their companies off the national media.


11 people like this
Posted by PA resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 29, 2016 at 9:32 am

PA resident is a registered user.

@Chinese American - Preference for one's own kind is biologically-based; creatures of all species fear "otherness" as a deep-seated strategy for survival. But just because our reptilian brains resist trusting people who look differently from us doesn't mean it's acceptable, especially in the US, where everyone, except native Americans, is an immigrant. I know you are taking about school kids, but, if you follow the news, complacency toward racial bias an attitude that just isn't sustainable, when divisions of race and ethnicity are tearing apart families and communities across this country. If you aren't aware of these problems, or think they don't affect you, think again. You, yes you! by virtue of birth or choice, are part of this grand experiment, this melting pot of diversity; as such, you have a duty to help make positive changes, however small toward acceptance, tolerance and justice for all. It's not OK to take advantage of freedoms and opportunities you are so fortunate to receive while shrugging off the need to lend a hand to others less fortunate.


12 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 29, 2016 at 11:05 am

Reptilian brains not withstanding you will note that the IRS is under criticism for auditing conservative non-profits, the FBI is under criticism for the handling on the security breach of the Clinton server, and the Attorney General is under criticism for meeting with Clinton on an Airplane during an investigation into the Foundation. And Palantir possibly has information which would compromise the current political situation. So someone has to put them on the spot - who better than the Department of Labor. They have yet to reach the spotlight on strange activity. From where I am sitting this is another case of political blackmail. So typical at this juncture of time.


6 people like this
Posted by Chinese American
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 29, 2016 at 11:15 am

@PA resident: Blah, blah, blah. The cultures need to make their own change if they want respect. Kneeling and demanding isn't enough. Most everyone can take advantage of the opportunities if they are determined. I do plenty of helping the less fortunate but enabling isn't the answer. Families should help their own family members. Many Americans are too entitled; no one owes them anything.


6 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 29, 2016 at 11:23 am

resident wrote:
- Why is everything now classified as racist?

Can you qualify that? ... it sounds Trumpian in scope, that is
a exaggerated-exaggeration aimed to placate white people
by focusing on the good things that no one is really complaining
about and turning the focus into not giving "white culture", if
there is such a thing, credit for the good it has done.

- I come from large international companies that have all
- combinations of people. The work relationship is based on
- skill sets - can you do the job assigned and work with other
- people on a team.

Is the goal to let a token number of people into the system
from every group large enough to complain to quash the
complaints, or to try to find a way to enlarge the scope of
our society and economy to integrate groups that are falling
farther and farther by the wayside and just call them hopeless
or not up to par in some way?

Skill sets? Can you qualify and prove that. The skill set needed
these days for great success is connection to the status quo
political networks, which is why getting into and going to and
graduating from a prestigious school is so cold-bloodedly
important these days and thus living in elite areas like Palo
Alto so children get that extra boost.

I don't know if you do not agree, do not see that or just want
to ignore it, but those elements are huge, and as Thomas
Picketty pointed out with capital in his book "Capital in the
Twenty First Century" the same "compounding" of wealth
and power over time of these advantages is exactly racial.
You appear to me to be implying that because there are not
socially condoned violence against minorities and ourright
exclusion or everyone that racism is over and not an issue.

I think the real issue here is a fear of losing our American
culture that is too complex or hard to discuss to the focus
does always revert to simplistic questions like "why is
everything racist?"

Our American culture is undergoing too many dimensions
of change which stress people and cause them to conflate
the causes and effects - and make it a great time for bad
actors to try to use this chaos to gain power.

For example, the fear of outsiders taking over. Just bear
with me for a second.

Most countries on this planet that have ever existed have
had unfairness and injustice as a huge part of them, slavery
and war-making two of the biggest. As things have evolved
this changes, but we don't see any order or reason to it. We
have laws and those laws try to equalize things, but at the same
time sometimes allow the loss of control or the fear of the loss
of control.

The example of that is neighborhoods in France and Britain
where Muslims have or are perceived as taking over.

Most reasonable people want fairness for everyone, but not to
the point where the normative greedy belligerent behavior of
people changes changes from the status quo power brokers
to some outside group that would change everything.

So, this has happened in some companies and situations around
here, and I think people do not know how to perceive it. Is it the
normal way things should go as all people are treated equally, or
will this be the start of the in-power group losing power and
influence, particularly when it is demonized more than is fair
for things every power groups in the world has done in the past?

The government, the media, the publishing industry has not done
much to report on and put this stuff into perspective, and politicians
and those who play with public perception seem to benefit from
that because they can herd people based on fear and isolate
them, or drive them together into dangerous situations.

The state of this "technology" is never talked about or reported
on, and yet we can assume that it happens at least somewhat.

Chinese American says racism will never be gone, but I think that
is incorrect, racism is a reaction to something that an individual's
brain can put a simple easy label on that resonates and gets
amplified by other people's fears or greed ... strong emotions.
The mechanism is what will remain, but racism, as in institutionally
treating people differently based on things that do not factor into
whatever subject is being discussed can be managed or minimized.

Now, the fear of Chinese may have some basis in that the media has
allowed for example Donald Trump to spread the fear that we are
being spied on and stolen from by China ... but China is one Asian
country, so that gets spread to all Asians somehow because of lack
of data, and fear-mongering. Some or that does happen.

It is also true that there is an "apparent" inequality between China and
the US in that we have these equal opportunity laws and a diverse
culture, and China does not. The fear being that whatever Chinese
experience in the US their connections to China will be stronger. We
already found that not to be true post-WWII with the Japanese, but
China is different, China has a huge population that militarily and
economically must be at least speculated as opposing the US.

So, the point is basically that speaking about racism ingores facts
and situations that are or may be racial that actually have import and
should not be kitchen-sinked in with slavery or illegal immigration
or whatever else.

- We have all worked together for 35 to 40 years and we are proud of
- the products and the company. We are proud of the people we work
- with. No one is getting ahead because of some outside requirement
- it is based on education, skills for the job, and good team work.

There is the difference of

* That good team work being something that is productive and
works within our system to bring good things to everyone.

* A system that though it works, is not optimal, and though it
served you and others as workers or customers also serves
to support the built in segregation and oppression and just
isolation of a lot of people. Those people do not go away,
although the unspoken racism may be that the system expects
that.

The system should ideally give everyone a chance continually,
and put different people in places where they and their "group"
can grow, but without allowing any pathologies to take root too
so that either things go backwards, or they develop into the
same racist-based system, but just against white people this
time.

I have made an attempt to be as objective and fair and neutral
as possible and I really hope the editors do not tear this to
shreds so my basic idea can get through.

A problem I have seem is that when people work, live, and
compete with each other in an imperfect world, political
and economic system a whole gamut of things can happen,
and yet we focus to the detriment of all on just one or two
sex, race things, and then only in certain limited ways, and the
problem with that is that after a while certain unfairnesses
get logged and the whole idea of being fair gets set up to
be tossed like the baby with the bathwater.


10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 29, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Wow - Crescent Park needs to get out more. In case you have not been over at the Facebook campus or Google campus there are a lot of Asians at those locations. And check out North San Jose - many employed Asians. So there is not a problem overall - unless you go to Samsung maybe they want Japanese vs Chinese. Lots of Vietnamese in the Milpitas location - they must be employed somewhere. Do you suppose there is discrimination within the various Asian groups? Samsung in North San Jose may not want to give away secrets to the Chinese. And I know that the Philippine population dominates some of the state agencies. Sorry - I am laughing here at the absurdity that the Chinese are being discriminated against. I think you are confirming that Palantir does have the goods on someone - and the someone is trying to shut them up - maybe they will be the October Surprise.


9 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 29, 2016 at 3:49 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@resident - "So why is the government focusing on them?" - By being in a government contract, they explicitly agreed both to not discriminate by race or national origin, and agreed to be have their hiring practices audited. I'm sure they didn't realize that they were so discriminatory in their hiring practice, but that is typical of the silicon valley startup bro culture. They just are hiring their bros. Whoops, got caught.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 29, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Look at the principals. It's a Cal vs Stanford thing.


10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 29, 2016 at 7:43 pm

John - I have spent my adult life in Government contractor agencies - I know all about it. However no one has produced any data that Asians are in fact being discriminated against at Palantir. It is more complicated for private companies that are directly involved in the intelligence world. The criteria for acceptance has a different set of guidelines. Maybe we should do a comparison with Richard Blum's company - husband of Dianne Feinstein. I would like to see the ratio applied in that case. Yes - he is in intelligence world.


8 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 29, 2016 at 8:45 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@resident - "no one has produced any data that Asians are in fact being discriminated against at Palantir"

Sorry, did you read the article or the attached court filing? There is plenty of data showing Palantir had racist hiring practices. Enough data that the Department of Labor felt like they needed to go to court to deal with Palantir. They haven't been proven guilty in a court yet but it is nonsensical to say there is no data in a comment of an article about the data.


16 people like this
Posted by Digusted
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2016 at 10:24 am

Digusted is a registered user.

I am surprised that Peter Thiel, as one of the founders, hadn't been thrown under the bus, here! Not that he is involved in the day-to-day management of Palantir, but he seems to be blamed for everything these days!

More to the point would be the current CEO! Why, with his patterns of misbehavior--which continue unabated--he hasn't been demoted, removed from his position or fired outright is beyond me! Perhaps Palantir can't afford to give him the Golden Parachute he is certain to demand! He is certainly ruining Palantir's already tarnished reputation.


9 people like this
Posted by big news
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 1, 2016 at 11:13 am

This is big news given the implications of hiring bias in Silicon Valley, not to mention Palantir's footprint in downtown Palo Alto (20 buildings!) and their many employees (and employees' spouses) affiliated with the pro-growth PAF. Why on earth has this been bumped from the first page of PAO?


7 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 1, 2016 at 3:15 pm

Posted by Confused
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:42 am:
"So it looks like they hired 16 Asian applicants out of a total of 37 hires. That's a rate of hiring that is over 40% Asian, ".

You got your fact and math wrong. You mid-information even gathered 47 likes, an example of how easily people in our community can be misled or chose to believe what they want to believe.

According to the suite below, of 35 Non-Asian applicants, they hired 17 of them, which is about 1:2 chance for Non-Asians to be accepted for the position. "In making its case against Palantir, the OFCCP pointed to its own data about the company's hiring pools and decisions. For the quality assurance (QA) engineer intern position, the pool of applicants had more than 130 qualified applicants, 73 percent of whom were Asian. The company hired 17 non-Asian applicants and only four Asian applicants, according to the suit.

"The likelihood that this result occurred according to chance is approximately one in a billion," the suit states."


6 people like this
Posted by citizen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2016 at 9:55 pm

correct typo of the above posting due to small screen with a phone instead of computer:

Quoting "Confused", a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood on Sep 27, 2016 at 10:42 am:
"So it looks like they hired 16 Asian applicants out of a total of 37 hires. That's a rate of hiring that is over 40% Asian, ".

"Confused", you got your fact and math wrong. Your mis-information even gathered 47 likes so far, an example of how easily people in our community can be misled or chose to believe what they want to believe. According to the Palo Alto Weekly article and the case mentioned below, of 35 Non-Asian applicants, they hired 17 of them, which is about 1:2 chance for Non-Asians to be accepted into the position, whereas for the same position, out of 95 qualified Asian applicants, they only accepted 4.

"In making its case against Palantir, the OFCCP pointed to its own data about the company's hiring pools and decisions. For the quality assurance (QA) engineer intern position, the pool of applicants had more than 130 qualified applicants, 73 percent of whom were Asian. The company hired 17 non-Asian applicants and only four Asian applicants, according to the suit.

"The likelihood that this result occurred according to chance is approximately one in a billion," the suit states."


9 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 4, 2016 at 7:39 pm

meh. I've seen discrimination happen both ways.

I have heard companies ..... Silicon Valley tech companies (HUGE brand name companies) hire an east indian (just one level lower than the CEO).. who would then come in and systematically eliminate and fire low Caste East Indians and ONLY replace them with high caste East Indians.

And if you were an East Indian who grew up in North America... you got fired as well.

The irony? HR never knew.. and the CEO was completely unaware.

And all the East Indians being fired knew what was happening but no one complained. It's a small world.. and no one wanted to burn bridges.

Perhaps some tech companies should look at the East Indians being hired by their leader (one lower than the CEO) who is firing East Indians and hiring others. It all seems the same.. but it's based on CASTE system.. all taking place in North America.. and no one is the wiser.


4 people like this
Posted by to anon
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 4, 2016 at 9:10 pm

As long as the company you described was not performing government work, it was probably free to discriminate. OTOH, Palantir is not able to do so if they want to keep their lucrative government contracts.


3 people like this
Posted by Discrimination
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 7, 2016 at 4:59 am

- government contracts requiring high level military/intelligence clearance? Then it would be understandable that those with visas from *certain* Asian countries would not qualify for these sensitive positions. I don't know; just asking.
- Chinese male networking/hiring preference for each other has been prevalent since mid 1980's as I have witnessed. I have not witnessed this with Chinese women.
- discrimination against women in Tech and those age 50+ is outrageous, crystal clear, and worse than what is experienced in other employment sectors/areas of the country. Someone posted about not wanting to burn bridges in one's career; this is why victims cope with this bad behavior rather than launching complicated lawsuits. I wish more men would not be bystanders when they see women in Tech having to face the full spectrum of bro behavior/privileged male behavior, which runs the gamut and can still be breathtakingly bad.
- Palantir co-founder has Stanford "bro" history. And I don't mean Thiel.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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