A healthcare staffing company based in Florida recently learned the hard way that it is illegal to favor foreign-trained individuals seeking permanent residence or H-1B sponsorship over U.S. workers. Many employers know that it is forbidden to discriminate against foreign workers, but not as many understand that it is also improper to favor them in hiring decisions.
Under the terms of a February settlement agreement with the Department of Justice (the “DOJ”), Avant Healthcare Professionals LLC reportedly agreed to pay $27,750 in civil penalties, and committed to rewrite its internal policies and procedures so that they properly incorporate the anti-discrimination protections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the “INA”). The company also agreed to subject itself to DOJ reporting and monitoring requirements for three years.
According to the DOJ, literally hundreds of the employer’s Internet job postings contained discriminatory language that illegally indicated a preference for foreign-trained individuals seeking H-1B visas or green cards.
According to published reports, Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, warned employers that they must comply with a “statutory obligation to monitor their online job postings to ensure that they do not violate the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA.”
Although employers are more often concerned with audits and inspections by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), this case illustrates that DOJ investigations should also be on their radar screens. The DOJ has definitely stepped up enforcement of the INA recently and that trend is expected to continue.
The Office of Special Counsel (“OSC”) for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA, and the OSC offers free tools for improving compliance.
Employers with questions can contact the OSC employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155. They can also sign up for a no-cost Webinar at the DOJ Website, or they can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are an employer or agent of an employer responsible for compliance with immigration law, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (847) 564-0712 for an appointment to speak with an experienced and qualified immigration attorney. You can also check out our immigration law Website for more information about how we might assist you.