MIAMI – A federal judge has ruled that a class-action lawsuit filed by DACA recipients challenging Procter & Gamble’s discriminatory hiring practice will move to trial.

The decision by a Florida federal court clears the way for a 2017 lawsuit brought against the consumer giant by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), Outten & Golden LLP, and Cimo Mazer Mark to move forward. The legal challenge was filed on behalf of David Rodriguez, a former college student who is authorized to work under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, who was denied an internship because of his immigration status.

“Refusing to hire work-authorized DACA holders is discrimination pure and simple, and the court’s decision confirms that it is unlawful,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel.  “Procter & Gamble should cease attempting to defend this unlawful discrimination and instead should recognize the tremendous contributions that DACA holders could make to the company.”

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams’ rejected Procter & Gamble’s argument that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the company’s policy of refusing to consider DACA applications was permissible.

“By asking ‘[a]re you currently a U.S. citizen OR national’ as a criterion for exclusion, the policy explicitly singled out non-citizens and subjected them to less favorable treatment,” the judge wrote in the 40-page ruling.

The judge added that “based on the specific issues and facts of this case, the Court concludes that DACA recipients are protected from intentional employer discrimination under Section 1981.”

“We are pleased that the Court found that DACA recipients are ‘persons’ protected under Section 1981 and that Procter & Gamble’s policy is facially discriminatory on the basis of alienage,” said Nina Martinez, attorney at Outten & Golden LLP. “This decision recognizes the over 800,000 DACA recipients in the US who have contributed in innumerable ways to this country and the economy. Their contributions are particularly significant in this time as DHS figures estimate that over 200,000 DACA recipients are working on the frontlines in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as ‘essential critical infrastructure workers.’”

Rodriguez applied for an internship in 2013, while a student at Florida International University. The application required that he provide information related to his citizenship and immigration status. After completing the form, Rodriguez was subsequently denied the internship and received confirmation from a Procter & Gamble representative that he was rejected because of his immigration status.

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the company’s hiring practices are unlawful, back pay and damages, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.

READ the ruling HERE.