Apple Inc has agreed to a $25 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, resolving allegations that the company unlawfully prioritized immigrant workers over U.S. citizens and green card holders for specific positions, as announced by the agency on Thursday.

The logo of Apple Inc. is displayed at the entrance of the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, U.S., on October 16, 2019.

The Justice Department stated that Apple failed to actively seek out U.S. citizens or permanent residents for roles covered by a federal program permitting employers to support immigrant workers in obtaining green cards. This contravened a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on citizenship.

This settlement marks the Justice Department’s largest-ever resolution regarding claims of citizenship-based discrimination, with Apple agreeing to pay $6.75 million in civil penalties and $18.25 million to an undisclosed number of impacted employees.

In response, Apple issued a statement acknowledging that it had inadvertently deviated from the DOJ’s standards. The company expressed its commitment to rectifying the situation, citing the implementation of a comprehensive remediation plan aimed at ensuring compliance with the mandates of various government agencies. Apple emphasized its ongoing efforts to hire American workers and foster growth within the United States.

As per the Justice Department, Apple neglected to publicize job vacancies, eligible for the Permanent Labor Certification (PERM) program, on its website—a practice regularly observed for other roles. Additionally, the company mandated that candidates for these positions submit paper applications, contrary to its typical acceptance of electronic applications, the department noted.

Individuals observe the newly released iPhone 15 Pro during the official launch of Apple’s iPhone 15 in China, as it becomes available for purchase at an Apple store in Shanghai on September 22, 2023.

The department stated, “These less efficient recruitment methods consistently led to minimal or no applications for PERM positions from individuals whose work authorization does not have an expiration date.”

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The Justice Department did not specify the particular Apple positions impacted by these recruitment procedures or elaborate on the advantages Apple may have gained from them.

Hiring foreign labor is often perceived as a cost-effective alternative to employing U.S. workers, and individuals relying on employer-sponsored green card sponsorship are typically viewed as less likely to seek alternative employment opportunities.

In addition to the monetary settlement, Apple has committed to harmonizing its recruitment practices for PERM-designated positions with its standard procedures. The company is obligated to implement more comprehensive recruitment processes and provide training to its staff on anti-discrimination laws, as outlined in the settlement.

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

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