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The Department of Justice today announced that it signed settlement agreements requiring 16 private employers to pay a total of $832,944 in civil penalties to resolve claims that each company discriminated against non-U.S. citizens in hiring. According to the department, each company posted at least one job announcement excluding non-U.S. citizens on an online job recruitment platform operated by the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). One employer posted as many as 74 discriminatory advertisements on Georgia Tech’s platform, while several of the employers posted discriminatory advertisements on other college or university platforms as well. The department determined that the advertisements deterred qualified students from applying for jobs because of their citizenship status, and in many cases the citizenship status restrictions also blocked students from applying or even meeting with company recruiters.
“Unlawful hiring discrimination based on citizenship or immigration status is a widespread problem across higher education in the United States, putting many jobs out of reach of qualified college students and recent graduates,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to enforcing the law to ensure that students and job applicants — including lawful permanent residents, U.S. nationals, asylees and refugees — are protected from unlawful discrimination. We will hold employers accountable for using on-campus recruiting platforms in a discriminatory manner and work to provide relief for victims.”
The department’s involvement in these matters began after a lawful permanent resident filed a discrimination complaint with the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, alleging that a company advertised a U.S.-citizens only position on a Georgia Tech job recruitment platform. The department’s investigation discovered a rash of other facially discriminatory advertisements on Georgia Tech’s job recruiting platform as well as other platforms operated by colleges and universities across the United States. The department proceeded to open investigations of the employers with which it is settling, and continues investigations into additional employers.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally prohibits employers and recruiters from limiting jobs based on citizenship or immigration status unless required by a law, regulation, executive order or government contract. The INA protects U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, refugees, asylees and recent lawful permanent residents from citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing and recruitment or referral for a fee. Regardless of whether colleges or universities run afoul of the INA in the way they operate their job recruitment platforms, employers themselves are liable if the advertisements they post on those platforms violate the INA.
Under the terms of their individual settlement agreements with the department, the following 16 employers will pay civil penalties in varying amounts, depending, in part, on the number of discriminatory advertisements they posted:
American Express Company
Sealed Air Corporation
Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Edward Jones Investments
SimpleNexus, LLC, f/k/a L Brewer and Associates, LLC, d/b/a LBA Ware
The Royster Group, Inc.
In addition to paying the civil penalties, the 16 employers must also require their recruiting staff to undergo training on their obligations under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision and to refrain from including specific citizenship or immigration status designations in their campus job postings unless the restrictions are required by law. They will also ensure that their other recruiting practices and policies comply with the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.
The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.
Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. IER’s website has more information on how employers can avoid discriminating based on citizenship status when hiring and recruiting. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public can also call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email IER@usdoj.gov; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER. View the Spanish translation of this press release here.
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