The U.S. Department of Justice recently reached a settlement agreement with Onward Healthcare, a healthcare staffing company based in Wilton, Conn., resolving allegations that the company posted discriminatory job advertisements on its home page and third party websites that limited its jobs to U.S. citizens.
According to the department's investigation, over a one year period, thousands of Onward Healthcare's job postings impermissibly limited applications to U.S. citizens, even though work-authorized immigrants, such as lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees, should have been allowed to apply as well. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of citizenship status unless required by law, regulation or government contract. The department determined that the company had no legal basis for its stated citizenship preference. “Federal law protects people who are authorized to work in the United States from facing discriminatory barriers when they are seeking employment,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Employers should ensure that their online job postings do not violate the anti-discrimination provision of Immigration and Nationality Act.”
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the company has agreed to pay $100,000 in civil penalties, to change its internal policies and manuals to reflect the INA's protections, and to be subject to reporting and compliance monitory requirements for a period of three years.
This settlement demonstrates that employers and recruiters must heed anti-discrimination rules of immigration law when hiring, firing, and recruiting employees.