Microsoft settles against discrimination case with DOJ


US Tech giant Microsoft Inc. was accused of discriminating against non-US citizens based on their citizenship status, during the early stages of its hiring process. The company was dragged to the courts for being biased.

Now the tech giant has reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

These individuals were asked to provide unnecessary, specific immigration documents to prove that they could work for the company without needing its sponsorship for work visas.

The settlement also resolves claims that the company discriminated against lawful permanent residents (aka green card holders), who were asked for more or different documents than legally required to reverify their continuing permission to work in the US.

An investigation carried out by the DOJ found that from at least June 2019 until at least January 2020, Microsoft routinely sent emails to lawful permanent residents asking them for documents to confirm their continued work authorization even though they had already provided documents showing permanent work authorization.

This investigation began after the spouse of an application called a hotline to report that the company had asked her husband for his permanent resident card, while he was applying for a job at Microsoft’s Redmond Washington, facility. At least six lawful permanent residents were discriminated against, by seeking such information.

The DOJ in the course of its investigation found evidence that the company repeatedly asked lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees to undergo an evaluation of their need for Microsoft to sponsor them for an employment-based visa even though they do not require sponsorship to work in the US.

Such practices are in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which requires that employers verify a worker’s permission to work in the US but prohibits companies from asking for documents when it’s not required or from limiting or specifying the types of valid documentation a worker is allowed to show because of a worker’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin.

Under the settlement, Microsoft will overhaul parts of its hiring process to ensure the company is not unlawfully requiring non-US citizen job applicants, including those with permanent authorization to work, to provide specific immigration documents to prove they do not require sponsorship for a work visa.

The settlement also requires the company to stop sending emails requesting documents to reverify work authorization to workers whose work authorization should not be reverified. Additionally, the settlement requires the company to allow workers who need to show their continued work authorization to provide their choice of documentation that is acceptable for that purpose.

Microsoft will also pay civil penalties and train its employees who are responsible for verifying and reverifying workers’ permission to work in the US. The settlement also requires Microsoft to be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements, states a DOJ press release.

Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general, with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division, stated, “DOJ will continue, through investigations and settlements such as this one, to ensure that all non-US citizens who are authorized to work can pursue job opportunities without facing unlawful discrimination.”