Apple has agreed to pay up to $25 million in backpay and civil penalties to settle allegations it illegally discriminated against U.S. citizens and permanent residents in favor of foreign nationals seeking green cards.
The Department of Justice announced the deal this week, which marks the largest award the department has recovered under anti-discrimination provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The agency says that it determined Apple’s recruitment practices discriminated against U.S. candidates and non-U.S. residents, instead favoring beneficiaries of the permanent labor certification program (PERM). PERM, a U.S. government program, allows employers to sponsor foreign national workers on temporary visas for green cards after they meet certain requirements.
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The DOJ began investigating Apple in 2019 during the Trump administration, and 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 U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, and those granted asylum or refugee status.”
The department found that Apple did not advertise positions it wanted to fill via the PERM program on its external job website, and required mail paper applications rather than electronic applications, which it said meant nearly always resulted in no or few applications from those whose work authorization does not expire.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Apple said it employs more than 90,000 people in the U.S. and “continues to invest nationwide, creating millions of jobs.”
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“When we realized we had unintentionally not been following the DOJ standard, we agreed to a settlement addressing their concerns,” the statement said.
The agreement means Apple will pay $6.75 million in penalties and establish an $18.25 million back-pay fund for alleged discrimination victims. Apple will also be required to make sure PERM recruitment is closer to standard recruitment practices and will need to conduct “more expansive recruitment” for PERM positions — some measures that the DOJ says have already been implemented.
Employees will also be trained on anti-discrimination requirements and be subject to three years of monitoring.
“Creating unlawful barriers that make it harder for someone to seek a job because of their citizenship status will not be tolerated,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement. “This resolution reflects the Civil Rights Division’s commitment to ending illegal discriminatory employment practices.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.