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Verdicts & Settlements

DOJ Settles Immigrant Discrimination Claim with Microsoft

— December 8, 2021

Microsoft will pay $17,000 to the U.S. Treasury, and amend its hiring practices so that legal aliens do not have to repeatedly show work authorization documents.

The United States Department of Justice has announced a settlement with Microsoft over claims that the technology company discriminated against non-U.S. citizens in its hiring process.

According to Jurist, the Justice Department accused Microsoft of discriminating against multiple categories of non-U.S.-citizen employees and applicants, including lawful permanent residents, refugees, and persons granted asylum.

The complaint was filed after the spouse of a Microsoft applicant reported suspected employment discrimination to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, which is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

After receiving the complaint, Jurist says, the Department of Justice opened an investigation, which found that Microsoft regularly required non-U.S.-citizen job applicants to undergo screening designed to determine whether they would need to be sponsored for an employment visa.

The U.S. Justice Department headquarters. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:Coolcaesar. (CCA-BY-3.0)

“The investigation determined that the company discriminated against at least six lawful permanent residents based on their immigration status during this visa evaluation process, by asking them to show a Permanent Resident Card to prove they had permission to work without employer sponsorship,” the DOJ said in a press release.

Beyond demanding proof of legal residency and working rights, Microsoft discriminated against applicants by asking them to furnish “unnecessary or inappropriate” documentation of their work authorization. In some cases, Microsoft demanded that applicants show their existing visas had been extended, even after applicants had provided evidence of the same.

However, the Immigration and Nationality Act states that certain classes of non-U.S. citizens, including lawful permanent residents, refugees, and asylees, do not need sponsorship in order to work in the United States.

The I.N.A. also prohibits employers from asking for additional documents beyond what is necessary to establish that an individual is legally authorized to work in the United States.

According to The Economic Times, the settlement obliges Microsoft to pay a small civil fine—approximately $17,000—to the U.S. Treasury, and to amend its hiring practices immediately.

Under the settlement, Microsoft has agreed to stop requesting unnecessary documentation, and will stop sending emails asking workers to re-verify their work authorization if their work authorization does not legally need to be re-verified.

“The Department of Justice will continue, through investigations and settlements such as this one, to ensure that all non-U.S. citizens who are authorized to work can pursue job opportunities without facing unlawful discrimination,” said Kristin Clark, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.


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