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US Department of Justice Reaches Penalty Deal for Biased Job Ads, Highlighting Discrimination Based on Citizenship

By Leni Plimpton

The US Department of Justice has recently reached another penalty deal concerning biased job advertisements. This development sheds light on the pervasive issue of discrimination based on citizenship status, reinforcing the importance of adhering to the principles set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Enacted in 1952 and amended many times since, the INA was landmark legislation that, among a multitude of other things, prohibited (1) unfair documentary practices; (2) discrimination in hiring, firing, and recruiting based on citizenship or immigration status; (3) national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, and recruiting; and (4) retaliation and/or intimidation. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin and other protected classes.

The Department of Justice’s recent settlement was against ten companies, including Honeywell International. The settlement comes on the heels of multiple similar agreements reached last September and June. Those settlements were with other big-name companies, including Walmart, Capital One Financial Corp, CarMax Inc., American Express, Edward Jones, and KPMG LLP. All of the companies had posted job advertisements that excluded non-U.S. citizens from applying.

The settlements and DOJ scrutiny serve as a stern reminder that fair and impartial recruitment processes are essential to compliance with the law. Of course, compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act and Title VII also contributes to the important goal of maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce. The DOJ’s enforcement is aimed at ensuring that everyone, regardless of their background, is afforded an equal chance to succeed in the job market.

The penalty deal reached by the Department of Justice underscores the consequences for employers who violate these crucial anti-discrimination provisions. By taking action against companies that engage in biased practices, the agency has demonstrated its commitment to upholding the rights and protections afforded by the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Discrimination based on citizenship not only perpetuates unfair treatment but also undermines the core values upon which the United States was founded. Our nation has thrived and prospered due to the contributions of individuals from diverse backgrounds, all united by the shared dream of pursuing a better life. Discrimination not only hampers the economic potential of our nation but also tarnishes its reputation as a land of opportunity.

Employers must recognize the importance of fair recruitment practices and ensure that job advertisements and hiring processes do not discriminate against individuals based on their citizenship status. By refraining from imposing unnecessary or arbitrary restrictions, employers can minimize legal risk and harness the full potential of a diverse talent pool, benefiting both their organizations and the communities in which they operate.

Employers must carefully review hiring materials to ensure that they do not include language that discriminates based on citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. Of course, employers are entitled to ensure that employees and applicants have the legal right to work in the United States. Still, such a requirement should be framed neutrally and without any suggestion that there will be any other basis for refusing to hire an individual based on the protected categories.

For more questions about hiring, firing, and recruiting, contact an employment lawyer at Fortis Law Partners.

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Lenora Plimpton

Lenora Plimpton

Lenora (Leni) specializes in employment and commercial litigation. She has experience with a wide range of employment and labor matters, including claims of age, race, and sex discrimination; disability discrimination; EEOC and CCRD charges of discrimination; mediations; arbitrations; and unemployment insurance audits.

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