The U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Labor have both announced distinct settlement agreements with one of the largest social media platforms on the planet for violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) through misuse of the Permanent Labor Certification Program (PERM). This resolves allegations by the Department of Justice that the employer discriminated against U.S. workers, including citizens, national, and other groups, for positions which the company had chosen to set aside for temporary visa holders as part of its use of the PERM program.
In late 2020, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the employer, alleging that the company had regularly chosen to reserve jobs for temporary visa holders. To do this, the lawsuit accuses the company of intentionally making applications for U.S. workers more difficult than for its typical recruitment practices. This included deterring such applicants by only accepting applications submitted by mail and then simply refusing to consider U.S. workers that did apply to these positions and instead only hiring temporary visa holders. This would violate the INA, which forbids employers from discrimination based on citizenship and immigration status.
The Department of Labor then began auditing the company pending PERM applications in order to determine if they were in compliance with the requirements of the program. This resulted in finding multiple potential violations of the program’s recruitment requirements.
Now, under the terms of the settlement with the Department of Justice, the company must pay a penalty of $4.75 million to the government and up to $9.5 million to victims. It must also train employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination provisions and conduct proper posting and recruiting for PERM positions and take electronic submissions from U.S. applicants as well as other steps to ensure recruitment for these positions follows the company’s standard recruiting techniques. This settlement, including the penalty and fund to pay victims, is the largest that the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has achieved in its enforcement of INA discrimination.
The separate Department of Labor settlement did not include any monetary penalties but does require that the employer perform additional recruitment of U.S. workers and posting of positions. It also subjects the company to additional audits in order to ensure compliance with regulations.
These settlements show that even the largest employers are not immune to the repercussions of violating immigration requirements. Hiring foreign workers is a complicated process that must be managed carefully to avoid significant fines and other penalties. The best way to help manage this process is with an electronic I-9 management tool that can ensure you are up to date with the latest Department of Homeland Security policies.