The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement resolving the Department’s claims that a Baltimore County, Maryland construction firm, Hallaton Inc., which installs geosynthetic liners, violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by preferring H-2B visa workers over qualified U.S. workers. This is the eighth settlement under 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. Since the Initiative’s inception, employers have agreed to pay or have distributed a combined total of more than $1.2 million in back pay to affected U.S. workers and civil penalties to the United States.
“Employers who abuse temporary visa programs deny U.S. workers job opportunities. This settlement provides up to $80,000 in pay back to compensate those U.S. workers who were unlawfully discriminated against in favor of visa workers,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “This is the eighth settlement in this Administration’s effort to combat discrimination against U.S. workers for job opportunities and we will continue to hold violators accountable.”
The Department’s investigation determined that from at least Dec. 1, 2017, until at least June 1, 2018, Hallaton routinely discriminated against U.S. workers by failing to consider them for construction laborer positions. Despite receiving over two dozen applications from available and qualified U.S. workers through the Maryland Workforce Exchange, Hallaton hired none of them. The company then sought and received permission to hire 63 H-2B visa workers for these jobs by claiming that it could not find qualified and available U.S. workers. Refusing to recruit or hire U.S. workers because of their citizenship status violates the INA.
Under the settlement, Hallaton will pay $43,143 in civil penalties to the United States, pay up to $80,000 in back pay to affected U.S. workers, and conduct enhanced U.S. worker recruitment and advertising for future positions. The settlement also requires Hallaton to train employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.
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 discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.
More information on how employers can avoid citizenship status discrimination is available here. More information about protections against unlawful citizenship status discrimination is available here. 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. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.
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; or discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge or contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.