Georgia University Settles Alleged Discrimination Against Non-U.S. Citizens

Georgia University Settles Alleged Discrimination Against Non-U.S. Citizens
September 11, 2023

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that it reached a settlement agreement with a Georgia-based university. This suit addressed allegations that it had violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). According to the settlement, the violation concerned the university’s automated job recruiting program.

The Department began its investigation due to a complaint from a lawful permanent resident who attended the university. In the complaint, the student alleged that the university’s recruitment platform had an advertisement for an internship opportunity available for U.S. citizens only. The investigation revealed that a bank posted this request on the forum.

The DOJ’s investigation revealed evidence to substantiate this complaint. It also uncovered additional discriminatory job postings that either discouraged or directly restricted non-U.S. citizen students from applying. Furthermore, the DOJ discovered that the university allowed employers to bar non-U.S. citizens from applying for these positions on its platform.

According to Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, “Our nation’s higher education institutions must ensure that their job recruiting platforms don’t promote, facilitate or enable unlawful citizenship discrimination. The Justice Department will vigorously enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act’s nondiscrimination mandate to ensure that college students are treated fairly and have an equal opportunity to compete for internships and jobs.”

These discoveries led to the investigations of all companies using the university’s platform. In turn, the DOJ has settled several agreements over the last several months. According to the case, over 30 employers collectively faced over $1.6 million in civil penalties. 

They amassed these penalties by advertising positions that excluded non-citizens on the platform. Examples of excluded persons include asylees, refugees, and lawful permanent residents. The DOJ’s actions reminded companies that anyone under these categories has a legal right to work in the United States.

In addition, the university reached a settlement with the DOJ. The university must pay $500,000 in civil penalties. It must also update its recruiting practices, policies, and procedures to comply with federal law. Finally, the university must provide training on the anti-discrimination requirements of the INA to relevant career services personnel.

As this case shows, the DOJ has continued diligently enforcing anti-discrimination laws. It also reminds employers of the importance of compliance, especially during the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process. Unfortunately, the I-9 process is a minefield of litigation for many.

One way to avoid unintentionally violating the INA and other laws is by automating the process with an electronic I-9 management system. This system provides step-by-step guidance. It also offers electronic storage for forms and documentation, a notification system for when to take action, and other features to ensure compliance.

When it comes to your work, automation makes eligibility verification quick and seamless. Get a head start today with I-9 Compliance.