A release from Aug. 31, 2023, put out by the United States Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Public Affairs, informed the public about the Institute’s recent agreement with the DOJ. The $500,000 settlement surrounds Tech’s agreement to rectify assertions of discriminatory practices and policies of the Institute’s recruiting platform in relation to immigration.
The DOJ’s inquiry into Tech’s practices revealed that the Institute had breached the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) due to its utilization of a recruiting platform for jobs relating to career fairs.
Third-party employers leveraged this platform by paying to advertise opportunities, and some of the advertisements posted on the platform left out some non-U.S. citizens in the recruitment process.
The INA, established in 1952, includes the most relevant provisions relating to immigration law. Section 11.2 of the INA outlines the types of employment discrimination prohibited under the act, including a subsection on citizenship status discrimination.
The subsection states that, “Citizenship or immigration status discrimination occurs when an employer treats someone diﬀerently when hiring, firing or recruiting because of the person’s real or perceived citizenship or immigration status. The INA prohibits this type of discrimination if the employer has four or more employees. Asylees, refugees, recent lawful permanent residents, U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals are protected from
this type of discrimination.”
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division commented on the case.
“Our nation’s higher education institutions must ensure that their job recruiting platforms don’t promote, facilitate or enable unlawful citizenship discrimination. The Justice Department will vigorously enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act’s nondiscrimination mandate to ensure that college students are treated fairly and have an equal opportunity to compete for internships and jobs,” Clark said.
The investigation commenced following a discrimination complaint filed by a Tech student with the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. The complaint revolved around the student’s inability to apply to an internship advertised on Tech’s platform that denoted a U.S. citizenship requirement within the application due to their status as a permanent resident. However, the DOJ’s probe into the platform revealed that this instance was not an isolated occurrence; they discovered multiple other employers executing similar discriminatory practices against non-U.S. citizens, and the Institute’s web service was deemed complicit in allowing employers to keep non-U.S. citizens from applying to certain jobs.
Talking about the case, fourth-year PUBP Adaiba Nwasike spoke about the implications of the DOJ’s inquiry into the Institute’s practices.
“I think it all ties back down to the rollback of affirmative action and how we ensure accountability within our higher education institutions to ensure that they are valuing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). I just happened to be on the DOJ’s website for a class when I saw the very first case. I’m sure most students don’t even realize what happened. It’s disappointing to see no acknowledgement from Administration because it indicates a lack of transparency and leaves a lot of questions unanswered,” said Nwasike.
An interview with the Technique regarding the case was denied, but Blair Meeks, Assistant Vice President of External Communications, provided a statement on behalf of the Institute.
Meeks’ statement read as follows: “Georgia Tech does not intentionally discriminate against students in its career services offerings. In collaboration with community partners, we provide career education, resources and experiential opportunities to our students in a broad spectrum of career directions. Georgia Tech fully cooperated at all times with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation and has already implemented changes to address concerns regarding career fairs and job recruiting platforms utilized by Georgia Tech. We will continue to support our students so that they are positioned to launch and sustain satisfying and successful careers that make a meaningful contribution to society.”
The DOJ’s investigation has taken over 14 months to complete; 16 employers settled with the department in June of 2022, and four more followed suit last September. In May of 2023, another 10 employers settled with the DOJ. These 30 employers have paid a combined $1.6 million in civil penalties.
According to data published by the Office of the Provost, in 2015, 12% of the undergraduate student populations in the two largest colleges at the Institute (College of Engineering and College of Computing) were non-U.S. citizens and resident aliens. The data charted between 2006 and 2015 shows a fairly steady increase in student populations specific to this demographic as seen on provost.gatech.edu/education-commission/discovery-reports/future-demographics. For a public institution with a notable population of students falling under the non-U.S. citizen category, Tech’s involvement in this case directly impacts its student body.
Aside from the large settlement Tech was mandated to pay, the Institute will have to alter its current recruitment policies in accordance with the INA. Furthermore, Tech’s career services personnel will receive training regarding the INA’s anti-discrimination provision for the next three years.
Students wishing to learn more can read the DOJ release at www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-secures-agreement-georgia-tech-resolve-immigration-related-discrimination and can access the settlement agreement at www.justice.gov/media/1312556/dl?inline.