November 15, 2023

Apple To Pay $25M Over Claims It Favored Temporary Visa Holders In Hiring Process

Apple has agreed to pay $25 million to resolve allegations of illegal discrimination in its hiring and recruitment processes.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) accused Apple of violating anti-discrimination laws, specifically related to its permanent labor certification program (PERM), which enables companies to hire foreign workers permanently in the US.

The allegations

The DOJ investigation found that Apple favored current employees holding temporary visas who sought permanent positions, creating barriers for other applicants.

“Apple did not advertise positions Apple sought to fill through the PERM program on its external job website, even though its standard practice was to post other job positions on this website,” the DOJ stated.

“It also required all PERM position applicants to mail paper applications, even though the company permitted electronic applications for other positions.”

These practices resulted in significantly fewer applications to PERM positions, particularly from candidates with permanent work permissions.

Despite the settlement, Apple faced no allegations of violating Department of Labor immigration rules.

The settlement

Under the $25 million agreement, Apple is obligated to pay $6.75 million in civil penalties and establish an $18.25 million back-pay fund for eligible discrimination victims.

This marks the largest award the DOJ has recovered under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Apple is also required to align its PERM recruitment practices more closely with its standard procedures. This includes posting PERM positions on its external job website, accepting electronic applications, and ensuring applicants are searchable in its tracking system.

An Apple spokesperson told CNBC, “When we realized we had unintentionally not been following the DOJ standard, we agreed to a settlement addressing their concerns.”

The company emphasized its commitment to compliance and announced a comprehensive remediation plan to meet government agency requirements while continuing to hire American workers.

What this means for the hiring of foreign nationals

Apple is not the first company to land on the wrong side of the DOJ’s anti-discrimination rules. Facebook settled a similar lawsuit in 2021.

Forbes notes that this is partly because PERM differs from regular recruitment.

For example, the DOL wants US workers to respond to job ads to test the labor market – and show US workers aren’t available to fill the role. But US immigration law doesn’t require employers to test the labor market in this way.

Attorney Cyrus Mehta told Forbes that this puts employers in a precarious position, as compliance with one agency’s rules may result in liability with the other.

He also expressed concern that the Apple settlement might lead some employers to reconsider sponsoring foreign nationals for permanent residence. Smaller businesses, in particular, might not survive this kind of fallout.

Mehta suggested that employers adhere as closely as possible to their non-PERM recruitment practices to navigate these conflicting requirements.

Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)