New York, Nov 10 (IANS): Apple Inc reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to resolve allegations that the tech giant illegally discriminated in hiring and recruitment against American citizens and certain non-US citizens whose permission to live in and work in the country does not expire.
Pursuant to the $25 million agreement, Apple is required to pay $6.75 million in civil penalties and establish an $18.25 million back pay fund for eligible discrimination victims.
This is the largest award recovered under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the DOJ announced on Thursday.
“Creating unlawful barriers that make it harder for someone to seek a job because of their citizenship status will not be tolerated,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Department’s Civil Rights Division.
“This resolution reflects the Civil Rights Division’s commitment to ending illegal discriminatory employment practices,” Clarke added.
The settlement agreement resolves the department’s determination that Apple violated the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements during Apple’s recruitment for positions falling under the permanent labour certification program (PERM).
The PERM program is administered by the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security.
It allows employers to sponsor workers for lawful permanent resident status in the US after completing recruitment and meeting other program requirements.
Any US employer that utilizes the PERM program cannot illegally discriminate in hiring or recruitment based on citizenship or immigration status.
The Department’s investigation, which started in February 2019, found that Apple engaged in a pattern or practice of citizenship status discrimination in recruitment for positions it hired through PERM.
It also found 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.
Specifically, the department’s investigation found that Apple did not advertise positions Apple sought to fill through the PERM program on its external job website, even though its standard practice was to post other job positions on this website.
It also required all PERM position applicants to mail paper applications, even though the company permitted electronic applications for other positions.
In some instances, 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.
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.
The agreement also requires Apple to ensure that its recruitment for PERM positions more closely matches its standard recruitment practices.
Specifically, Apple will be required 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 implemented some of these measures after the department opened its investigation.
Additionally, Apple will train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements and be subject to departmental monitoring for the three-year period of the agreement.