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Apple agrees to $25 million settlement with US over hiring of immigrants

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar/

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) - Apple Inc will pay $25 million to settle claims by the U.S. Department of Justice that the company illegally favored immigrant workers over U.S. citizen and green card holders for certain jobs, the agency said on Thursday.

The Justice Department in a statement said Apple did not recruit U.S. citizens or permanent residents for jobs that were eligible for a federal program allowing employers to sponsor immigrant workers for green cards, in violation of a federal law that bars discrimination based on citizenship.

The settlement is the largest ever for the Justice Department involving claims of discrimination based on citizenship, the agency said. It requires Apple to pay $6.75 million in civil penalties and $18.25 million to an unspecified number of affected workers.

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Apple in a statement said it had "unintentionally not been following the DOJ standard."

“We have implemented a robust remediation plan to comply with the requirements of various government agencies as we continue to hire American workers and grow in the U.S.," the company said.

According to the Justice Department, Apple did not advertise job openings that were eligible for the program, known as the permanent labor certification or PERM program, on its website as it routinely does for other positions. And the company required applicants for those jobs to mail paper applications even though it usually permits electronic applications, the department said.

"These less effective recruitment procedures nearly always resulted in few or no applications to PERM positions from applicants whose permission to work does not expire," the department said.

The Justice Department did not specify which Apple jobs were affected by the recruitment procedures or how Apple may have benefited from them.

Foreign labor can often be cheaper than hiring U.S. workers, and immigrants who rely on their employers for green card sponsorship are seen as less likely to leave for a different job.

Along with the payout, Apple agreed to align its recruiting for PERM jobs with its normal practices. The company will be required to conduct more expansive recruitment and train employees on anti-discrimination laws, according to the settlement.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Deepa Babington)