Marking 37 years since Congress passed the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Justice Department announced today that it secured an agreement with Cox Communications Inc., a Georgia-based provider of residential and business telecommunication services to resolve claims of discrimination.
Specifically, this agreement resolves the department’s determination that Cox Communications violated the INA by using a Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) on-campus recruiting platform to post dozens of discriminatory job advertisements that unlawfully excluded students and alumni based on their citizenship status. The department previously secured agreements with 30 other employers to resolve similar claims — 16 in June 2022, four in September 2022 and another 10 in May 2023 — and with Georgia Tech in August 2023.
“With this latest resolution, the Justice Department has now held Georgia Tech and 31 employers accountable for their roles in unlawful hiring discrimination based on students’ citizenship status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “These agreements have secured more than $2.5 million in civil penalties and demonstrate the department’s commitment to ensuring that college students and graduates embarking on their careers have a fair chance to compete for jobs.”
The department started its investigations after a Georgia Tech student, who was then a lawful permanent resident, complained about a U.S. citizens-only internship advertisement on Georgia Tech’s on-campus job recruitment platform. The department’s investigation of the student’s complaint revealed dozens of other discriminatory advertisements on the platform, including several posted by Cox Communications. The department found that Cox Communications posted numerous job advertisements that unlawfully excluded workers granted asylum or refugee status, lawful permanent residents and, in one instance, U.S. citizens. The department also determined that Cox Communications used features of Georgia Tech’s online platform to deter and automatically exclude qualified students from applying because of their citizenship status.
Under this agreement, Cox Communications is required to pay a civil penalty of $459,895 and to train its recruiting staff on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision. The agreement also prohibits Cox Communications from including specific citizenship or immigration status designations in their campus job postings unless the restrictions are legally required.
This agreement is part of the department’s efforts to combat discrimination related to artificial intelligence and automated systems, as described in the Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.
The INA’s anti-discrimination provision was passed as part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act in November 1986. This law prohibits employers and recruiters from limiting jobs based on citizenship or immigration status unless required by a law, regulation, executive order or government contract. The INA protects those granted asylum or refugee status, recent lawful permanent residents, U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals from citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing and recruitment or referral for a fee.
Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. IER’s website has more information on how employers can avoid discriminating based on citizenship status when hiring and recruiting. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public can also call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email IER@usdoj.gov; sign up for a live webinar or watch an on-demand presentation; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe for email updates from IER.
View the settlement agreement here.