Louisiana Company Pays More Than $100,000 to U.S. Workers to Resolve Discrimination Claims
Justice Department recently announced that Barrios Street Realty LLC, a company based in Lockport, Louisiana, has paid approximately $108,000 to 12 U.S. workers pursuant to a settlement with the department. The payments are part of a March 2016 settlement that resolved claims that Barrios discriminated against U.S. workers in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
In its investigation leading up to the settlement, the department determined that from 2014 through 2015, the company and its agent, Jorge Arturo Guerrero Rodriguez, failed to consider or improperly rejected U.S. workers who applied for positions as sheet metal roofers or laborers, and then sought to fill the vacancies with foreign workers under the H-2B visa program. According to the department, the company’s petition for foreign workers falsely claimed that it could not find qualified U.S. workers. Refusing to consider or hire qualified U.S. workers because of their citizenship violates the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.
The settlement required Barrios to pay $30,000 in civil penalties and up to $115,000 in back pay to compensate U.S. workers who were denied employment because of the company’s reliance on H-2B visa workers. After entering the settlement, the department determined that 12 U.S. workers were entitled to receive back pay totaling approximately $108,000, and the company made the final payments to the workers last week.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate employers misusing visa programs to discriminate against U.S. workers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “We will vigorously prosecute claims against companies that place U.S. workers in a disfavored status.”
Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), formerly known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits, among other things, citizenship and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; 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 (link sends e-mail); or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.
Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to different documentary requirements based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin; or discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.