Apple illegally discriminated against US citizens and other US residents in its hiring and recruitment practices for certain types of positions that went to foreign workers, the US Department of Justice said yesterday. Apple agreed to pay up to $25 million in back pay and civil penalties to settle the DOJ allegations.
Apple discriminated “against US citizens and certain non-US citizens whose permission to live in and work in the United States does not expire,” the agency said. The $25 million payment was called the largest ever collected by the Justice Department under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Apple is required to pay $6.75 million in civil penalties and create an $18.25 million fund to provide back pay to those harmed by its hiring practices. Apple did not admit guilt in the settlement. But the company acknowledged in a statement that it had “unintentionally not been following the DOJ standard,” according to Reuters.
“We have implemented a robust remediation plan to comply with the requirements of various government agencies as we continue to hire American workers and grow in the US,” Apple said. We contacted Apple and will update this article if it provides any further statement.
As Reuters noted, “Foreign labor can often be cheaper than hiring US workers, and immigrants who rely on their employers for green card sponsorship are seen as less likely to leave for a different job.”
The DOJ said it began investigating in February 2019 and determined “that Apple violated the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements during Apple’s recruitment for positions falling under the permanent labor certification program (PERM).” The agency said the discrimination began no later than January 1, 2018, and continued until at least December 31, 2019.
Under this program, a “permanent labor certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States,” the DOL . But the employer must also obtain a certification “that there are not sufficient US workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job opportunity in the area of intended employment and that employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers.”
The DOJ said its investigation “found that Apple engaged in a pattern or practice of citizenship status discrimination in recruitment for positions it hired through PERM, and that the company’s unlawful discrimination prejudiced US citizens, US nationals, lawful permanent residents, and those granted asylum or refugee status. These less effective recruitment practices deterred protected workers from applying to positions that Apple preferred to fill instead with PERM beneficiaries.”
Apple did not advertise PERM positions on its external job website like it does with other positions, the DOJ said. “It also required all PERM position applicants to mail paper applications, even though the company permitted electronic applications for other positions,” the DOJ said.
In some cases, “Apple did not consider certain applications for PERM positions from Apple employees if those applications were submitted electronically, as opposed to paper applications submitted through the mail,” the agency said. “These less effective recruitment procedures nearly always resulted in few or no applications to PERM positions from applicants whose permission to work does not expire.”
Apple changes hiring practices
The settlement requires Apple to make its PERM recruitment practices match its standard recruitment practices more closely. Apple will have to “conduct more expansive recruitment for all PERM positions, including posting PERM positions on its external job website, accepting electronic applications, and enabling applicants to PERM positions to be searchable in its applicant tracking system.”
Apple has already implemented some of the changes and agreed to “train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements and be subject to departmental monitoring for the three-year period of the agreement,” the DOJ said.