Since Asians are well represented throughout Silicon Valley -- if not as well as one Donald Trump advisor seems to think -- it can be easy to forget that they too often face discrimination in the workplace, even at technology companies. The latest example comes out of Oracle, via a complaint filed by the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday sued the Bay Area company alleging various forms of discrimination. Most interestingly, the Labor Department accuses Oracle of over-hiring Asian workers.

"Oracle's applicant pool was heavily over-represented by Asian applicants as the result of Oracle's recruiting and hiring practices," the Labor Department's complaint reads. "Including its over-selection of Asian applicants, particularly Asian Indians, from its actual applicant pool, its hiring strategies such as targeted recruitment, and referral bonuses that encouraged its heavily Asian workforce to recruit other Asians, and its reputation for favoring Asians."

That accusation amounts to discrimination against workers of other ethnic groups, including whites, Hispanics and African-Americans. But despite the alleged overrepresentation of Asian workers, Oracle also found a way to discriminate against them, the government says. This was done by paying them less than others.

"Oracle discriminated against qualified Asians in product development job functions at Oracle Redwood Shores based upon race by paying them less than comparable Whites employed in similar roles," the complaint says.

In short, Oracle would over-hire workers of Asian descent and then underpay them for their talents. For its part, Oracle contests the accusations.

"The complaint is politically motivated, based on false allegations, and wholly without merit. Oracle values diversity and inclusion, and is a responsible equal opportunity and affirmative action employer," said Oracle Spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger in a statement. "Our hiring and pay decisions are non-discriminatory and made based on legitimate business factors including experience and merit."

For Asian-Americans, nuanced forms of discrimination are nothing new.

Last year, unicorn tech company Palantir was also accused of discriminating against Asians by the Department of Labor. And a study done in 2015 found that Asian tech workers often face discrimination as they try to climb their way up the corporate ladder, facing rejection when seeking jobs in leadership and c-suite levels.

Beyond Silicon Valley, discrimination against Asians may be most visible in Hollywood. The film industry often fails to cast Asian actors for roles other than token parts, and it often gives roles that should obviously go to Asian actors with white actors, and the industry tends to poke fun at Asians whenever possible, as game show host Steve Harvey did just this month.

Published on: Jan 19, 2017