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IBM settles discrimination case

IBM has settled a case with the United States Department of Justice and is required to pay fines and revamp its employment policy. IBM was accused of national origin discrimination that was manifested through their stated preference for visa holders. California employees are protected by federal law from being discriminated against on the basis of religion, national origin, race or sex.

The preference was included on online job ads that IBM placed for software developers. It stated that the company preferred to hire employees with F-1 and H-1B visas. The spokesman for IBM said that the company has posted in excess of 44,000 jobs in the United States and abroad. He further stated that the cause of action concerned only a small fraction of these job postings and were for positions that were supposed to be for permanently located abroad. However, the Justice Department stated that the Immigration and Nationality Act does not allow employers to express or make an implication regarding a preference for individuals who have temporary visas over workers in the United States, such as citizens or lawful permanent residents. The Justice Department says that this law applies even if the successful candidates would be required to move overseas.

Employment ads that include an implied preference for foreign visa holders have long been a problem. The majority of companies that are cited by individuals who are H-1B visa policy critics are smaller technology firms and consulting firms. The Department of Justice reported a similar settlement in 2008 with another tech company that preferred H-1B visa holders. IBM will pay over $44,000 in civil penalties. It will also revise its employment policy.

California employment law lawyers may be able to assist individuals who have been discriminated against for their national origin. They may be able to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and pursue compensation for the employee or applicant.

Source: Computer World, "IBM settles with U.S. over alleged discrimination in job ads", Patrick Thibodeau, September 30, 2013

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