Justice Dept. Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims Against 121 Residency Programs and AACPM
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on June 20, 2016, that it reached agreements with 121 podiatry residency programs and the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM) to resolve claims that they discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
DOJ’s investigations found that between 2013 and 2015, the programs and AACPM created and published discriminatory postings for podiatry residents through AACPM’s online podiatry residency application and matching service. Specifically, DOJ said hundreds of job postings limited podiatry residency positions to U.S. citizens. Several work-authorized non-U.S. citizens stated that they were discouraged or deterred from applying to residency programs because of the citizenship requirements, and the agency concluded that two lawful permanent residents were denied consideration for positions because of unlawful citizenship requirements.
Under the settlement agreements, the programs must remove citizenship requirements from podiatry residency postings except where required by law, train staff involved in the advertising and hiring of podiatric residents, and ensure that future residency postings are reviewed by staff trained in equal employment opportunity laws or by legal counsel. Some of the settlements also require the programs to pay civil penalties from the programs totaling $141,500.
The settlement with AACPM requires it to pay $65,000 in civil penalties, train its staff on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, and ensure that all participating programs receive such training before they may use AACPM’s online system to advertise residency positions. The settlement also requires AACPM to refund the fees that the charging party paid to use AACPM’s residency application and matching system.
The agency began its investigations of the programs and AACPM in 2015 after receiving a charge against AACPM from a podiatry medical student with lawful permanent residence. The charge alleged that AACPM published a series of podiatry residency job announcements that unlawfully restricted positions to U.S. citizens through AACPM’s online application service. The charge further claimed that AACPM used its online service to collect citizenship status information from residency applicants and share that information with residency programs.
DOJ noted that unless a legal exception applies, jobs may not be advertised as available only to U.S. citizens because doing so excludes other work-authorized individuals, such as U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents (green card holders), asylees, and refugees.