Venezuelan Immigrant Sues Procter & Gamble, Alleging Discriminatory Hiring Practices
Venezuelan native David Rodriguez says Procter & Gamble rejected him from a paid internship because of his immigration status, despite being authorized to work in the U.S., according to a lawsuit he filed Monday in Florida federal court.
Rodriguez, who moved to the U.S. when he was 10 years old, was authorized to work here under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which created a pathway in 2012 under the Obama administration for young immigrants to stay in the United States with work authorization and Social Security cards.
Rodriguez’s lawyers are seeking class action status, arguing that the case could reflect a company-wide policy that flouts federal law by not considering candidates who are legally allowed to work in the United States.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, along with attorneys from the labor and employment firm Outten & Golden, filed the suit in the the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida. Miami’s Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, the insurance firm, is also working on the case.
Procter & Gamble said Monday in a statement that its recruitment system focuses on “people with long term work authorization” in the U.S. The company said that when the DACA authorization went into effect, that recruitment policy was not adjusted. Since, the application progress has been modified to allow for greater flexibility and the company “has, and will continue to, consider individuals authorized to work under DACA for employment opportunities,” according to the statement.
Since the 2012 DACA policy, this is the third such case filed by Outten & Golden and MALDEF over the issue of companies that have allegedly denied employment opporttunities to immigrants authorized to work in the U.S. opportunities. One case is pending against Wells Fargo & Co. that claims the bank denied qualified applicants, including college students, loans because of their immigration status. The case filed in a California federal court seeks class action status. Northwestern Mutual settled a case in New York court over claims the bank blocked a college graduate from an internship.
“The idea is to get them to stop these policies,” said Outten & Golden’s David Lopez, formerly a general counsel to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “Immigration is a federal policy, a federal matter. These companies don’t have the right to decide they can ignore workers authorized by the federal government.”
Rodriguez, who graduated from Florida International University in 2014, said he had a nearly perfect grade point average, 3.96, and majored in finance with a minor in economics and accounting. He hoped to secure the internship with Ohio-based P&G to make connections or even land a full-time job with the company after graduation.
He did not get beyond the screening stage. He later said a recruiter told him his immigration status kept him from moving forward.
“I was incredibly disappointed that a company that is so innovative could be so short-sighted in its hiring practices,” Rodriguez, 34, said in an interview Monday. “It would have been a tremendous opportunity.”
He applied for the internship in September 2013 for the upcoming summer. The company’s hiring policy in general may be designed to weed out candidates, Rodriguez’s complaint alleged, since various job postings specifically say that candidates must “be a U.S. citizen of natural, refugee, asylee or lawful permanent resident.”
The lawsuit is seeking judgement that the company’s hiring practices are unlawful and for back pay and damages.
Obama announced in 2012 that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would no longer deport certain young immigrants under the DACA program. But the future of the program has come under question in the Trump administration. As a candidate, President Donald Trump promised to end the program. He has since shifted his stance.
“DACA recipients have been recognized across the political spectrum as worthy of protection; these young people are a committed, U.S.-educated, and well-qualified cohort of our nation’s current and future workforce,” said Thomas Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel, in a statement. “Denying them employment is not only unlawful, it is counterproductive policy for any employer, especially a huge seller of consumer goods like the defendant here.”
Source: Law Journal