The government has accused Apple Inc. of favoring workers from abroad in the hiring process, and the company will pay $25 million to settle the claim. The Department of Justice said the Cupertino-based tech giant showed bias in recruitment for positions eligible for a federal program allowing employers to sponsor immigrant workers for green cards, which give them permanent U.S. residency. According to the department, Apple did not advertise the jobs on its website or allow applicants to apply electronically, as it does for other job openings.
The settlement is the most significant award the DOJ has ever recovered under a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that bars discrimination based on citizenship. In addition to the payment, Apple will have to change its hiring practices for positions that qualify for the PERM program. It will also have to train its employees on anti-discrimination laws.
Apple was facing a probe of its immigration policies after it hired more than a dozen foreign engineers in 2018, and it did not tell the DOJ about the hires until 2019. The company has defended the decision to bring on foreign workers, saying it helps to fill gaps that could not be filled with domestic talent.
A spokesman for the DOJ said it was pleased to resolve this matter with Apple. “Creating unlawful barriers that make it harder for people to seek employment simply because of their citizenship status will not be tolerated,” the spokesman said.
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Several large tech companies are pushing for changes to how immigration works, including changing how high-skilled immigrants are brought into the country and the path to becoming a naturalized citizens. Apple has said it would like to see an overhaul, as many other businesses rely on temporary work visas for workers from overseas.
CNBC’s Steve Kovach joins ‘Closing Bell Overtime’ to discuss the $25 million settlement, what it means for Apple and its competitors, and why some of the other big tech names are getting a bump in their stocks on this news.
AAPL shares were up 7% at $168.22 on Thursday.
Tech skeptics point out that even if this settlement is accurate, it’s only one case, and it does not mean the company is violating immigration laws broadly.
Regardless, the settlement will likely cause concern that the DOJ may investigate other big companies with similar practices. It’s also another sign of the rising anti-immigration sentiment under President Donald Trump. He has slowed down or frozen many temporary worker visas, such as the H-1B skilled worker visa, which is essential for some high-tech firms to recruit workers. He has also pushed to limit the number of people who can legally enter the U.S. Those moves are creating more tension in the tech sector, which is already worried about a shortage of qualified workers. Some companies are raising wages and offering more benefits to attract workers.