According to a complaint filed in Seattle, Washington federal court on Monday, a Mexican-born immigrant claims that Zoom Video Communications Inc. discriminated against him because of his citizenship or immigration status. The complaint states two claims for relief for violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination and for alienage discrimination under the federal equal rights provision, 42 U.S.C. § 1981.
The lawsuit explains that in 2012, the plaintiff applied to the United States Department of Homeland Security to become a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. According to the complaint, he met the criteria and was awarded DACA status, and with it the ability to work in the country. He has reportedly renewed his application every two years since 2012.
After graduating from the University of Central Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics in 2017, the plaintiff allegedly worked in the fields of software development and data engineering. In June 2021, a recruiter contacted him via LinkedIn to ask whether he would be interested in learning more about open engineering positions at Zoom.
The plaintiff indicated his interest and soon thereafter began interviewing for the role he was interested in, a machine learning engineering position. At the outset of the interview process, by two different interviewers, the plaintiff was asked and confirmed that he did not need company sponsorship to legally work for Zoom.
The process was reportedly going well until the third interviewer pushed the plaintiff to share the exact nature of his immigration status. Upon hearing that the plaintiff was a DACA recipient, the Zoom hiring manager indicated that it might be a problem without stating more.
A day later, the plaintiff received an email turning him down as a candidate “due to immigration.” The plaintiff followed up seeking further information, but never heard from Zoom again.
According to the filing, the plaintiff was shocked by the email. “He had sacrificed a significant amount of time preparing for multiple rounds of interviews with Zoom and had never experienced such blatant discrimination in a professional setting before, making him feel disposable and worthless,” the complaint says.
The filing alleges that Zoom discriminated against the plaintiff when it rejected him for the machine learning engineer position solely on the basis of his citizenship or immigration status. The plaintiff seeks compensatory, emotional distress, and punitive damages and an award of his attorneys’ fees and costs. He is represented by Maloney O’Laughlin PLLC.