back to article Microsoft signs settlement with US Justice Dept over 'immigration-related discrimination' claims

Microsoft has settled with the US Justice Department over immigration-related discrimination claims. At the heart of the investigation were allegations that the Windows giant discriminated against non-US citizens based on their citizenship status as well as against lawful permanent residents. The problem was the level of …

  1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Strangely ..

    .. I'm on Microsoft's side on this issue. Nothing to do with "Them furriners takin' our jobs." But consider the fact that MS has (and is) pursuing a lot of government business. Some Defense Department, NSA, and even some combination of letters which must not be spoken. And what happens when they get a contract? They have to provide secure facilities and exclude all foreign nationals and uncleared personnel. Think about the implications of trying to collect this information after the fact vs putting it in the HR database at hiring time.

    Been there, done that. In a smaller organization, it's damned near imposible. You have to break up teams and lease some off site office space to move all the non cleared people. What might start out as a commercial product may not be offerable to various gov't entities if we can't document the personel involved in its conception.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      not quite

      I'd like to point out that US permanent residents are allowed to work on government and military projects. It is only 'secret' clearance that requires citizenship, and a lot of red tape for those citizens. The vast majority of projects are not in that category.

      They also don't need to 'collect that information' at any other time, because they will have done so already when they hired the person and submitted the documentation to the federal government saying that they had done so and that they checked that they had permission to work.

      1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        Re: not quite

        "The vast majority of projects are not in that category."

        You might be surprised.

        "They also don't need to 'collect that information' at any other time, because they will have done so already when they hired the person"

        Timing is the issue here. There is a grace period for submitting the immigration documentation for the permission to work. Not so if they have to set up access control (badging, etc.) for new employees to keep them out of secured areas.

  2. Apprentice Human

    Microsoft being a bit of bastard?

    Gambling going on here? Err, is that movie on again? No, it's just the normal practice out of Redmond.

    Look at how M$ are starting to tie the browser back into the OS. The corporate culture seems to be "We are Microsoft, we do what we want." and laws are for others.

    This latest case is just another example of why I have never, and will never, applied to work for them.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Much as it annoys me to support MS in anything later than FORTRAN for CP/M it seems to me that, given the government policy at the time this would have been a reasonable defensive strategy.

  4. Daedalus Silver badge


    The Feds labour mightily and bring forth a mouse. I mean, all that effort for a fine that even a poor IT drone could pay off. An application of Hanlon's Razor is appropriate here: no malice, just incompetence. We might note that such incompetence is rife in areas like Health Insurance (forever asking for copies of patient records that they then lose) but no Federal wrath descends there.

    As an ex-PR myself, now naturalized, I never had any problem showing my green card. Here it is, now bugger off. BTW it wasn't green.

  5. Dr Scrum Master

    Proof of employability

    the company discriminated (sic) against at least six lawful permanent residents based on their immigration status during this visa evaluation process, by asking them to show a Permanent Resident Card to prove they had permission to work without employer sponsorship

    I'm almost at a loss for words.

    What's so wrong in asking people to show that they have the legal right to work in a country?

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: Proof of employability

      @Dr Scrum Master "What's so wrong in asking people to show that they have the legal right to work in a country?"

      But in this case that was not what Microsoft was doing. Microsoft was asking for "more documentation than was legally required to show sponsorship for work visas were not needed, as well as repeatedly demanding evidence to reverify the continuing permission of employees to work in the US".

      Also the law prohibits employers asking for documents when not required.

      It's a bit like your employer asking to see your passport, to see if you are a citizen of that country, to show you have a legal right to work in that country.

      I use that example above as that once happened to me and all my work colleagues. Most showed their passports but a few of us refused. After a couple of months of continual refusals they gave up asking our passport (birth certificate if no passport) and never asked again.

      1. Julian Bradfield

        Re: Proof of employability

        In the UK, most employers, especially those who do employ people on visas, will ask to see your passport (or other proof of citizenship/residence). Do they have to? No. But it's the only sure defence they can plead if they do employ somebody who turns out not to have the right to work: "I checked the documents, here's the copy of them with my signature and date".

  6. abcdgoldfish

    USCIS are quite clear about this

    USCIS Form I-9 details the options available to prove Identity and Employment Authorization.

    A Permanent Resident could present their PR card, or an I-776 singularly which illustrated ID and EA. OR they could present for example both a state issued Driver License plus a non-endorsed SSA card.

    The problem appears to be that MS were insisting on a specific ID, which is verboten.

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