Tech giant maintains this was ‘not intentional discrimination’
Apple has agreed to pay up to $25 million to settle allegations of discriminatory practices under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as disclosed by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). The settlement includes a payment of $6.75 million in civil penalties and the establishment of an $18.25 million back pay fund for eligible victims of discrimination.
This marks the largest recovery under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, according to the DOJ. The accusations against Apple revolve around alleged discriminatory recruitment practices based on citizenship status for positions filled through the permanent labor certification program (PERM).
Under the PERM program, overseen by the US Department of Labor and the US Department of Homeland Security, employers can hire foreign workers for permanent positions in the United States. The DOJ found reasonable cause to believe that Apple showed a preference for temporary visa holders over qualified US applicants for PERM-related positions.
The settlement agreement revealed that Apple employed procedures designed to favor temporary visa holders, including not advertising positions on its external job website and requiring paper applications via mail. These less effective recruitment methods allegedly discouraged US applicants and resulted in minimal applications from the US, allowing Apple to fill positions with temporary visa holders.
While Apple denied engaging in discriminatory practices, it acknowledged the settlement without admitting guilt or liability. A spokesperson stated that the alleged failures were unintentional errors rather than intentional discrimination. Apple has implemented a remediation plan to comply with government agency requirements and emphasized its commitment to hiring American workers.
As part of the settlement terms, Apple will post PERM positions on its external job website, accept electronic applications, and make PERM positions searchable in its applicant tracking system. The company will also provide anti-discrimination training to employees and undergo departmental monitoring for three years.
Assistant Attorney-General Kristen Clarke from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division emphasized the resolution’s alignment with their commitment to ending discriminatory employment practices. Clarke stated that creating barriers based on citizenship status is intolerable and emphasized the importance of ensuring equal job opportunities for everyone.