Apple has reached a $25 million settlement agreement with the Justice Department over allegations that the tech giant illegally discriminated in hiring and recruitment against U.S. citizens and certain permanent residents with work authorization.
Under the agreement, Apple is required to pay $6.75 million in civil penalties and establish an $18.25 million backpay fund for eligible discrimination victims — the largest award the Justice Department has recovered under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The Justice Department’s investigation, which started in 2019, found that Apple engaged in citizenship status discrimination in recruitment for positions under the permanent labor certification program (PERM).
PERM, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), allows employers to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the U.S. after meeting certain requirements.
Prior to granting a permanent labor certification to a foreign worker, the DOL must certify to the DHS that there are not “sufficient U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job opportunity in the area of intended employment.”
PERM also stipulates that the “employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.”
The investigation found that Apple did not advertise positions which they sought to fill through the PERM program on its external job website, despite it being the company’s standard practice to post other job openings on this website.
Apple also allegedly required all PERM applicants to mail paper applications, even though the company accepted electronic submissions 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,” the Justice Department wrote in a Thursday press release.
These disparate recruitment procedures, according to the Justice Department, “nearly always resulted in few or no applications to PERM positions from applicants whose permission to work does not expire” — resulting in “unlawful discrimination” against U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, and those granted asylum or refugee status.
“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 Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This resolution reflects the Civil Rights Division’s commitment to ending illegal discriminatory employment practices.”
The settlement agreement also requires Apple to ensure its recruitment for PERM positions more closely matches its standard recruitment practices, a process that will be monitored by the Justice Department for a three-year period.
The agreement notes that the settlement is not to be construed as “Apple admitting to any guilt or liability,” and that the company “maintains that any alleged failures were the result of inadvertent error and not intentional discrimination.”