In a landmark settlement, Apple Inc. agreed to pay $25 million to settle claims by the U.S. Department of Justice that the tech giant illegally favored the hiring of immigrant workers over U.S. citizens and green card holders.
The DOJ initiated an investigation in February 2019 into Apple’s recruitment practices for positions hired through the Permanent Labor Certification (PERM) program. The PERM program allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers and sponsor them for employment-based green cards, as long as the hiring of a non-U.S. citizen employee would not prevent equally capable U.S. workers from procuring a similar position. The investigation revealed that Apple’s recruitment practices, such as not advertising PERM positions on its external job website and requiring paper applications while allowing electronic submissions for other positions, violated PERM requirements and deterred qualified individuals from applying. This discriminatory pattern resulted in a limited number of applications for PERM positions from U.S. citizens and green card holders.
Apple is not the first major U.S. company to face a hiring discrimination suit by the DOJ. Back in 2021, a settlement was reached between Meta (formerly Facebook Inc.) and the DOJ over allegations that the company had discriminated against U.S. workers during the PERM process. In a previous statement for Bloomberg News, Boundless CEO Xiao Wang commented on Meta’s recruitment processes and how recent hiring discrimination suits reflect broader issues plaguing the business immigration system. “This case is emblematic of the broader challenges and debates surrounding immigration, labor rights, and economic growth in the U.S.,” said Wang. “As the case progresses, it will be crucial to ensure that the narrative remains focused on creating a fair and inclusive environment for all while promoting economic prosperity and innovation.”
Immigration experts caution that the Meta and Apple suits are evidence that companies who rely heavily on foreign labor should expect increased scrutiny when it comes to recruitment and hiring methods. Foreign labor is often cheaper than hiring U.S. workers, and international employees who rely on their employer for green card sponsorship may be less likely to leave the company for another position.
In the groundbreaking settlement, Apple agreed to adjust their recruitment practices, change how they advertise PERM positions, and conduct training on anti-discrimination laws.
“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.