The Justice Department today reached a settlement agreement with Triple H Services LLC, (Triple H), a landscaping company based in Newland, North Carolina, that conducts business in Virginia and four other states. The agreement resolves the Department’s investigation into whether Triple H discriminated against qualified and available U.S. workers based on their citizenship status by preferring to hire temporary workers with H-2B visas, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The Department’s investigation found that although Triple H went through the motions of advertising over 450 landscape laborer vacancies in five states, it did so in a manner that misled U.S. workers about the available positions and prevented or deterred some from applying. The Department found that Triple H did not consider several qualified U.S. workers who applied for positions in Virginia during the recruitment period, and instead hired H-2B visa workers. In several states where jobs were available, the Department found that Triple H prematurely closed the online job application process for U.S. worker applicants, filled positions with H-2B visa workers without first advertising the jobs to U.S. workers in the relevant locations, or advertised vacancies in a manner that did not make the postings visible to job seekers using state workforce agency online services.
The Department concluded that in taking these actions, Triple H effectively denied U.S. workers access to jobs based on its preference for hiring temporary H-2B visa workers to fill the positions. Refusing to consider or hire qualified and available U.S. workers based on their citizenship status violates the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, regardless of whether an employer has complied with other rules governing the use of temporary employment-based visa programs.
Under the settlement, Triple H must establish a back pay fund, with a cap of $85,000, to compensate certain individuals who were harmed by its practices. The agreement also requires Triple H to pay $15,600 in civil penalties, engage in enhanced recruitment activities to attract U.S. workers, and be subject to Departmental monitoring for a three-year period.
“Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against U.S. workers in hiring because of their citizenship status,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Department will continue to fight to ensure that U.S. workers are not disadvantaged because of their citizenship status. I commend Triple H for its cooperation with the Department and its willingness to undertake efforts to recruit U.S. workers that go well beyond the minimum requirements for participation in the H-2B visa worker program.”
Today’s settlement is part of the Civil Rights Division’s Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, which is aimed at targeting, investigating, and taking enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of temporary visa workers. Under this Initiative, the Civil Rights Division has opened dozens of investigations, filed one lawsuit, and reached settlement agreements with three employers. Since the Initiative’s inception, employers have agreed to pay or have distributed over $285,000 in back pay to affected U.S. workers. The Division has also increased its collaboration with other federal agencies to combat discrimination and abuse by employers using foreign visa workers.
The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.
For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, 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); sign up for a free webinar; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.
Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to: discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or retaliation should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.