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General Motors to Pay $365K Penalty to DOJ

April 20, 2023 (2 min read)

DOJ, Apr. 18, 2023

"The Justice Department announced today that it has secured a settlement agreement with General Motors (GM) to resolve the department’s determination that GM discriminated against non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The department also announced the release of a new fact sheet to help employers avoid citizenship status discrimination when complying with export control laws, which govern U.S. companies’ ability to export certain goods and software, technology and technical data. The department’s investigation of GM revealed that the company’s violations stemmed in part from its failure to properly consider the INA’s nondiscrimination requirements when also complying with export control laws.

“Export control laws do not justify or authorize an employer to discriminate against non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “When employers commit unlawful discrimination, the Civil Rights Division will continue holding them accountable. The Civil Rights Division is issuing a new fact sheet to help educate employers and promote greater compliance with anti-discrimination law going forward.”

Under export control laws and regulations, such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations, all “U.S. persons” working at U.S. companies can access export-controlled items without authorization from the U.S. government. U.S. persons under these laws include U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees. An employer might need authorization from the State Department or the Commerce Department to share or release export-controlled items to workers who are not U.S. persons. To confirm if an employer needs to request authorization for an employee to access export-controlled information, the employer might need to obtain a worker’s citizenship or immigration status information to determine whether they are a “U.S. person.” This process is referred to as an “export compliance assessment.”

The department’s investigation determined that until at least September 2021, GM’s export compliance assessments unnecessarily required lawful permanent residents to provide an unexpired foreign passport as a condition of employment, imposing a discriminatory barrier on them in the hiring process. From at least July 2019 until May 2021, GM improperly combined its process for verifying workers’ permission to work in the United States with its export compliance assessment, which resulted in GM unnecessarily requiring that newly hired non-U.S. citizens provide specific and unnecessary documents to prove their permission to work.

Under the terms of the agreement, GM will pay $365,000 in civil penalties to the United States. The agreement also requires GM to train its personnel on the INA’s requirements, revise its employment policies and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements. Specifically, GM must separate its process to verify permission to work in the United States from its export compliance assessment process, and stop requiring lawful permanent residents to present foreign passports as a condition of employment."