MIAMI, FL — Procter & Gamble illegally denied qualified applicants paid internships because of their immigration status, according to a lawsuit filed today in federal court.
The suit, brought by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and Outten & Golden LLP on behalf David Rodriguez, a former college student who was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, alleges that the consumer product giant violated federal law that prohibits discrimination based on alienage.
Young immigrants who qualify for DACA are authorized to remain in the United States and are given work authorization and Social Security cards.
“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 A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “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.”
Mr. Rodriguez is a 2014 graduate of Florida International University (FIU). He majored in finance, minored in economics and accounting, and graduated with a 3.96 GPA.
In September 2013, Mr. Rodriguez applied for an internship with Proctor & Gamble (P&G) after attending an on-campus information session about the company’s internship program. The application required that he provide information related to his citizenship and immigration status, according to the lawsuit.
After completing the form, Mr. Rodriguez was subsequently denied the internship and received confirmation from a P&G representative that he was rejected because of his immigration status.
The complaint further alleges that various P&G online job postings specifically warned under the “Qualifications” section that candidates “must be a U.S. citizen or national, refugee, asylee or lawful permanent resident.”
“We believe that P&G’s rejection of Mr. Rodriguez was pursuant to a companywide policy that denies certain non-citizens employment based on alienage, even if they possess valid employment authorization,” said David Lopez, of Outten & Golden. “An employer’s refusal to hire entire segments of the population based on an express policy not to contract with certain lawfully present non-citizens constitutes alienage discrimination under Section 1981.”
Attorneys for Mr. Rodriguez said they will seek to have the lawsuit certified as a class action to include persons living in the U.S. who were legally authorized but denied the right to work at P&G since July 17, 2013.
The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the company’s hiring practices are unlawful, back pay and damages, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.
The case is “Rodriguez v. Procter & Gamble,” Case No. 1:17-cv-22652 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.