Speaking of statistics, there were 21 people hired, and 17 were "non-asian" and 4 were "asian"
Now here's the problem when we go down the rabbit hole of stats, percentages, and hiring by race.
The lawsuit makes no claims about percentages by race in relation to the larger population (as you seem to imply), but only to percentage in reference to the qualified applications. 95 of the qualified applicants for those 21 QA engineering intern positions were asian, and only 35 were non-Asian. But half of the non-Asian applicants were hired while only 5% of the Asian applicants were hired, indicating differential hiring from the applicant pool.
From the article: "The likelihood that this result occurred according to chance is approximately one in a billion," said the lawsuit,
Yeah - I'm going to have to call bullshit on that - I'd love to see that math.
I'm not sure exactly which method they've used, but here's one simple option: Assuming equivalent merit of applicants, "random chance" means choosing 21 applicants randomly from the applicant pool of 95 Asian and 35 non-Asian applicants. We want to compute the probability that only 4 or less of those 21 selected applicants are Asian. The number of Asian applicants selected follow a hypergeometric distribution. This distribution doesn't have a simple formula computing tail probabilities (your welcome to look it up), but many statistics packages will do it. This methods gives us a roughly 1 in 60 million probability of 4 or less Asian hires due to random chance. Not 1 in a billion, but I suspect that the Department of Labor's analysis incorporated additional information. And 1 in 60 million is still low enough to suggest that something is going on.
But then, according to the article The majority of Palantir's hires as engineering interns, as well as two other engineering positions, "came from an employee referral system that disproportionately excluded Asians,"
And both the comments are from the lawsuit, so I give them veracity as an integral part of the lawsuit
Well, right there is your answer. These interns and two engineering positions came from employee referrals.
In my professional life, I'm exposed to a lot of different ethnicities, but if I referred every "asian" for placement in an open position, and no non "asians" at all, and they all were hired, it might hit 20 percent, of which this lawsuit is considered racially discriminating.
And this is likely (at least part) of what's going on. Employee referral programs are definitely not "by random chance".
So what this is actually an attack against is the process of referral. Should a referral of a known non-"asian" who might have a great track record, be disregarded for an unknown "asian" person, or even more importantly, if referrals are to become verboten, should a non-"asian" be not hired and an "asian" of known flaws be hired?
So perhaps the process of employees giving assessments of people they know is what is considered racist. That's actually a little scary, because it means an employee who knows a person as a bad actor will then not be allowed to make commentary on that.
Employee referral programs can exacerbate existing demographic imbalances, and cause members of certain demographics to have a much more difficult time getting hired at your company. Just because the discrimination is structurally propagated does not get the company off the hook. Large companies that want to avoid exactly this situation closely monitor their key demographics and balance their use of employee referrals to ensure diversity.