The Department of Justice recently announced a series of settlements resolving claims that major companies discriminated against noncitizens on college job recruiting platforms. By posting jobs that indicated U.S. citizenship was a requirement for the position, the companies ran afoul of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. These settlements underscore the importance of corporate compliance with U.S. immigration law.
Allegations of Discrimination Against Noncitizens
According to the Department of Justice, a noncitizen student at the Georgia Institute of Technology filed a discrimination complaint alleging that Capital One Bank restricted a paid internship opportunity to citizens of the United States. The job posting appeared on the University’s job recruitment platform. The subsequent investigation revealed several facially discriminatory advertisements on the platform and on similar recruiting platforms across the United States. The Department subsequently opened investigations against over 20 employers for violations of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”).
The recent announcement states that four major companies – CarMax, Axis Analytics LLC (aka Axis Group), Capital One Bank, and Walmart – violated the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA and will pay a total of $331,520 in civil penalties. Individual settlement amounts vary depending on the number of unlawful advertisements posted. The details are as follows:
Axis Analytics: $53,872
Capital One Bank: $49,728
In addition to monetary penalties, the companies will be required to undergo additional training on their legal obligations under U.S. immigration law. This settlement announcement follows previous settlements involving 16 companies for similar violations of the INA. The cumulative settlement penalties exceeded $800,000.
Anti-Discrimination Under the Immigration & Nationality Act
The anti-discrimination provisions of the INA can be found at 8 U.S.C § 1324(b) and its associated regulations at 28 C.F.R. Part 44. These provisions prohibit discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in the hiring, firing, recruitment, and referral of workers for a fee. The provisions also outlaw unfair documentary practices. Finally, they make it illegal to retaliate or intimidate protected persons who file a discrimination-related complaint against the employer. Failure to comply with these laws can result in prosecution leading to civil penalties and other sanctions.
The DOJ Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section enforces the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA. Under the Biden administration, enforcement of these laws has been steady. According to Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division, “[w]ith these four new settlements, the department has now held 20 companies accountable this year for hiring discrimination against students based on their citizenship status. The Civil Rights Division is committed to enforcing the law to ensure that job seekers – including lawful permanent residents, U.S. nationals, asylees, and refugees – are not unlawfully excluded from job opportunities for which they are qualified.”
Continued DOJ Enforcement of Discrimination Claims
The Biden administration continues its focus on enforcement of the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA to protect vulnerable noncitizen employees from unfair and illegal practices. Accordingly, it is imperative that employers consider the legal consequences of their policies, exercise utmost care in implementing their hiring practices and ensure compliance with immigration law.