Apple Inc., the major computer and cell phone manufacturer, has reached a $25 million settlement with the United States Department of Justice over claims that it illegally engaged in immigration discrimination against its employees. According to the settlement, Apple violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by favoring foreign workers over U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or asylees. The settlement constitutes the largest settlement ever for immigration discrimination under the anti-discrimination clause of the INA.
What is Apple?
Apple is a California-based company, and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computers and mobile computing devices, including cell phones and tablets. In addition to making computers with the macOS operating system, it also manufactures the iPhone, the iPad, Apple Watch, AirTags, and more. It employs more than 160,000 employees and made an estimated $383 billion in revenue this past year.
What Did Apple Allegedly Do?
According to the DOJ, Apple allegedly committed employment discrimination by seeking foreign workers through the permanent labor certification program, also known as PERM, without first seeing if lawful U.S. residents could fill the positions. Under the anti-discrimination section of the INA, 8 U.S.C. §1324b, employers are not supposed to treat employment candidates differently depending on their immigration status. However, Apple was found to have engaged in practices that deterred U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and asylees from applying to certain positions, thereby keeping them free for foreign workers to be hired under the PERM program.
Why Did Apple Engage in Immigration Discrimination?
While no specific explanation was given, many companies will seek foreign labor over domestic labor for a variety of reasons, particularly in the tech sector. One reason is that many foreign workers are willing to work for less money than their domestic counterparts, saving the company money. Additionally, employees brought in through employment visas (such as the H1-B visa) are less likely to object to abusive labor standards due to their immigration status being tied to their employment. This means that employees who lose their jobs risk deportation, giving employers additional leverage over their employees.
What Does This Settlement Do?
First and foremost, Apple will need to pay $25 million, including $6.75 million in civil penalties and $18.25 million in back pay for employees found to have been the victims of immigration discrimination. In addition, Apple will need to reform its hiring practices to become compliant with the INA. This not only punishes Apple for its previous wrongdoing, but also seeks to reduce the chance that similar issues will occur in the future.
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