The American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine, as well as a number of residency programs, reached an agreement with the Department of Justice in June following an investigation by the DOJ into AACPM's hiring practices.
The medical organization, as well as 121 podiatry residency programs, were accused of violating the discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, according to a press release. The INA bars employers from placing excess burden on new hires to prove work eligibility. Employers' document requests for lawful permanent residents should be the same as what they ask of U.S. citizens. Any request for specific documents may be construed as discriminatory and, as a result, a violation of the INA. In addition, excluding any work-authorized individuals from a position, regardless of citizenship status, is a breach of the INA.
DOJ finds discriminatory job posts
The DOJ's investigation determined that from 2013 to 2015, the residency programs and AACPM posted a number of discriminatory job postings. The podiatry resident job descriptions were created and posted through AACPM's online podiatry residency application and matching service. Hundreds of these postings were limited to U.S. citizens, a breach of the INA. AACPM had no legal authority to bar work-authorized non-citizens from applying for podiatry residency.
A number of non-citizens who were eligible for employment in the U.S. stated they didn't apply to the residency programs due to the postings' citizenship requirements. In addition, the DOJ investigation found that at least two work-authorized non-citizens were barred from the positions in residency programs due to their citizenship status.
AACPM and residency programs face large fines
AACPM's agreement with the DOJ includes a $65,000 civil penalty. In addition, the organization will have to train its staff on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA and ensure that participating residency programs introduce similar instructional programs. Otherwise the programs will be barred from using AACPM's online residency advertisement system. The agreement also requires the organization to refund fees to the charging parties who used the service to apply for residencies.
The 121 residency programs that came to agreements with the DOJ will remove citizenship requirements from job postings, unless the law demands them. The programs will implement training initiatives designed to teach staff about advertising residency positions and hiring for them. The deal mandates that future residency programs are evaluated by equal employment experts to ensure they're not discriminatory. The department also levied a $141,500 total penalty against the residency programs.
"Immigrants authorized to work in our country should never face unlawful discriminatory barriers to employment," Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and principal deputy assistant attorney general, said. "Across the industry, these settlements will ensure that qualified medical students have equal opportunities to join podiatric residency programs and provide healthcare services to our communities."
As long as someone is eligible to work in the U.S., he or she should not be denied the ability to apply for a position. Neither should that individual be asked to provide specific documents during the hiring process. Each of these is considered discrimination.
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