The US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced Tuesday that it had settled with Microsoft Corporation over claims of discrimination against non-US citizen employees, including discrimination against lawful permanent residents, refugees, and asylees. The settlement occurred after the spouse of an applicant for a position at Microsoft reported discrimination to the DoJ Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, which enforces anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Following this complaint, the DoJ launched an investigation, which found the company had repeatedly required job applicants who were lawful permanent residents, refugees, and asylees to undergo a Microsoft evaluation as to whether they needed sponsorship for an employment-based visa. Furthermore, Microsoft discriminated against several of these individuals by requiring unnecessary or inappropriate documentation of their work authorization and repeatedly requesting evidence of its extension, even when sufficient documentation had been required or was unnecessary due to their work authorization being permanent.
Microsoft’s actions were unlawful as the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that lawful permanent residents, refugees, and asylees do not need to have sponsorship to work in the United States. Furthermore, the INA prohibits employers from asking for unnecessary documents or limiting the types of documentation that are sufficient for establishing work authorization. Such measures are in place to prevent employers from discriminating against potential employees due to their citizenship status. By placing unnecessary burdens on non-U.S. citizens to obtain and keep employment with Microsoft, the company violated these anti-discriminatory provisions.
As part of the settlement with the DoJ, Microsoft will be required to reform its hiring processes to ensure that authorized non-US citizen workers are not forced to prove a need for work sponsorship, among other reforms. Furthermore, Microsoft will be required to pay civil penalties and submit to monitoring and reporting requirements.
This settlement follows a DoJ settlement with Facebook in October due to claims that Facebook had misused the Department of Labor’s Permanent Labor Certification Program to ensure that certain positions would be filled by temporary visa holders, rather than by US citizen workers. Facebook ultimately paid $15 million and agreed to additional auditing processes as part of that settlement.