08/24/2012 02:55 pm ET

Citizenship Discrimination: MicroLink Devices Fined For Posting Citizens-Only Job Ads

Following allegations that Microlink Devices posted online job ads including citizenship requirements, the U.S. Department of Justice reprimanded the Illinois-based company, requiring it to pay $12,000 in penalties. According to a press release, the DOJ and Microlink, a manufacturer of semiconductor structures and solar cells, reached the settlement agreement this week.

Citizenship discrimination by potential employers may be as slight as a line in a job posting, but it carries a heavy penalty. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, companies cannot discriminate based on an applicant's citizenship status unless "required to comply with law, regulation, executive order or government contract."

While a job applicant may not be an official citizen of the U.S., there are several exemptions including work permits and asylum that enable non-citizens to seek gainful employment within the nation's borders. Thus, by requiring all job applicants to be U.S. citizens, a company is effectively discriminating against certain categories of immigrants that are legally allowed to work.

“Employers must give all eligible candidates the equal opportunity to compete for employment,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ's civil rights division, said in a statement. “The department is committed to ensuring employers do not discriminate against protected individuals based on citizenship status.”

Aside from the $12,000 Microlink Devices must pay the U.S. in civil penalties, the company has also agreed to "revise its hiring and recruiting procedures, conform future job postings to the requirements of the law, and to be subject to training, reporting and compliance and monitoring requirements."

Though citizenship discrimination is not rare, it's also not as prevalent as other types of employment discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, specifically racial prejudice. In 2011, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces Title VII, reported 99,947 complaints, a record-number, 35,395 of which involved race -- the second most common type of complaint behind retaliation.

This week, Dunkin' Donuts' parent company Dunkin' Brands was named in a lawsuit that accused the chain of giving white franchise owners more preferable locations than minority owners.



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