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Company pays more than $100,000 to resolve INA discrimination claims

September 6th, 2017  |  Deborah Hammonds

A Louisiana company has paid more than $100,000 to settle allegations that it failed to consider or improperly rejected U.S. workers because of their citizenship. According to the Justice Department, the payment was part of a settlement reached with Barrios Street Realty, LLC, a company based in Lockport, Louisiana, to resolve claims the company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

In its investigation leading up to the settlement, the Justice 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, DOJ 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 in August.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division stated the DOJ will not tolerate employers misusing visa programs to discriminate against U.S. workers.  “We will vigorously prosecute claims against companies that place U.S. workers in a disfavored status.”

Formally known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.