Palantir Technologies co-founder Peter Thiel is evidently paying the price for backing Republican nominee Donald Trump, as the Obama administration has slapped his company with a frivolous lawsuit alleging “racial discrimination” against Asians.
The lawsuit, filed and announced Monday by the Department of Labor, threatens the complete cancellation of every contract Palantir has with the federal government — a penalty worth $340 million, the lawsuit claims, which would end the company.
The claims in the lawsuit are laughable. The Obama administration alleges that Palantir discriminated against Asians. But it has to admit that Palantir, in fact, hired many Asians — 11 out of 25 software engineers, for example. The government does not even bother to claim that Palantir deliberately excluded Asians. Rather, it argues that since only 44% of Palantir’s software engineers are Asian, but 85% of the applicant pool was Asian, Palantir must, statistically, have discriminated against Asians.
In other words: almost all of the software engineers at Palantir have to be Asian, or else it is guilty of “racial discrimination.” Apparently left-wing concern for “diversity” in the workplace is a flexible concept, based on political expediency.
(It is notoriously difficult for anyone, Asian or otherwise, to be hired by Palantir, which deals with very sensitive and advanced intelligence-oriented projects — a fact that is well-known in the tech, defense, and public policy communities.)
The lawsuit is obvious revenge for Thiel’s support of Trump. In his speech at the Republican National Convention in July, Thiel blasted the government for its technological backwardness: “[T]oday our government is broken … it would be kind to say the government’s software works poorly, because much of the time it doesn’t even work at all.”
Thiel’s government clients clearly did not take kindly to that — and wanted to send a message to other potential Trump fans in the business and tech communities.
One expert interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News was highly skeptical of the lawsuit’s merits:
“This is unusual,” said Buck Gee, a former Cisco executive who studies Asian diversity in Silicon Valley, said of the accusations against Palantir. “If it’s true, it would be an anomaly.”
But Gee said Asian employees are less likely to be promoted once they are hired. At Facebook, for example, just 21 percent of the company’s senior leadership staff is Asian.
As for the Palantir lawsuit, Gee is skeptical about the discrimination claims. The complaint leaves out key information, he said, such as what percentage of the company’s overall workforce is Asian. And the Labor Department didn’t explain how it determined which rejected applicants were qualified for the engineering jobs in question.
The Department of Labor hopes to weaponize the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling last year in Texas Housing on so-called “disparate impact” discrimination to bully Thiel and others. Thiel, who was recently revealed as the main force behind a years-long battle against Gawker, probably has the guts to fight back. But others will not.