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The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement agreement with Aero Precision LLC, a Washington state firearm manufacturer. The settlement resolves the department’s determination that Aero Precision had a policy of unlawfully screening out certain non-U.S. citizen job candidates, including asylees and refugees, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Under governing law, asylees and refugees have the same eligibility to work in jobs involving access to sensitive defense-related information as U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, and would have to pass the same background check as other employees if an employer requires one.

“Asylees and refugees in the United States are authorized to work and are entitled to fair access to employment opportunities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring that all employers, regardless of their industry, have a fair hiring process that does not subject workers to unlawful discrimination.”

The department’s investigation determined that from at least April 2020 until September 2020, Aero Precision routinely implemented a hiring policy that screened out eligible candidates who were not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Firearm manufacturers in the United States are subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which regulate specific exports of defense articles and services. Absent State Department authorization, employers subject to these regulations must limit access to certain sensitive information to “U.S. persons,” which are defined as U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees. The ITAR thus does not authorize or require employers to exclude asylees and refugees from consideration and hire only U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. By limiting hiring to just U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, Aero Precision placed unnecessary hiring restrictions on its workforce. 

Under the settlement, Aero Precision must train staff on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, review its policies to ensure compliance with relevant law and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements. 

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation

Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. Find more information on how employers can avoid citizenship status discrimination on IER’s website. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public can also call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email IER@usdoj.gov; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.

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