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P&G Faces Immigrant Discrimination Class Action

Jul 18, 2017 / Media Coverage / Law360 — Dave Simpson

A prospective Procter & Gamble Co. intern filed a class action in Florida federal court Monday, claiming the company discriminated against his DACA immigration status when he was not selected for its internship program.

David M. Rodriguez, a Venezuelan national authorized to work in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, or DACA, said in the suit that he and other non-permanent residents were not given equal opportunity in P&G job applications, a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

“P&G, a multi-billion dollar American multinational consumer goods company, denies employment opportunities to entire categories of individuals authorized to work in the United States based on their alienage,” the suit claims. “Specifically, P&G categorically denies non-citizen job applicants employment with the company in the United States if they are not U.S. permanent residents, refugees, or individuals granted asylum, notwithstanding the fact that the applicants are authorized to live and work in the United States.”

Monday’s suit seeks unspecified damages, back pay, declaratory judgment that P&G’s practice violates the Civil Rights Act, and a preliminary and permanent injunction for the company to restore members of the proposed class to their work positions.

Rodriguez, a 34-year-old who recently graduated Florida International University, according to the suit had applied for the paid internship in the company’s finance department with the help of P&G recruiters.
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In October 2013, when he didn’t hear back about his applications, he emailed the recruiters to ask about the company’s immigration status criteria.

“Mr. Rodriguez’s email explained that he possessed a valid work permit and did not need employer sponsorship to work lawfully in the United States,” the suit claimed.

Two days later, his rejection letter came. Again, he emailed the recruiters, this time asking for an explanation. According to the suit, one responded saying that “per P&G policy, applicants in the U.S. should be legally authorized to work with no restraints on the type, duration, or location of employment.”

The complaint claims that because Rodriguez is eligible to work under DACA, P&G’s rejection of his application based on the fact that he’s not a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, refugee, or individual granted asylum constitutes as alienage discrimination.

It’s not only those with DACA statuses, like Rodriguez, who are being discriminated against, the suit claims.

“For example, P&G’s requirements for entering into a work contract with the company also discriminate against visaholders who are legally authorized to work in the United States, as well as other recipients of deferred action, including crime victims and survivors of severe forms of trafficking,” the suit claims.
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Plaintiffs are represented by Jason S. Mazer and Cary D. Steklof of Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin PA, Patrick David Lopez, Sally J. Abrahamson, Ossai Miazad and Olivia J. Quinto of Outten & Golden LLP, and Nina Perales and Thomas A. Saenz of The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
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The case is Rodriguez v. The Procter & Gamble Company, case number 1:17-cv-22652, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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