By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has reached a settlement agreement with El Expreso Bus Company (El Expreso), a company headquartered in Houston, Texas. The agreement resolves the IER’s investigation into whether El Expreso unlawfully denied employment to qualified and available U.S. workers because it preferred to hire temporary visa workers with H-2B visas.

The investigation determined El Expreso failed to consider applications from qualified U.S. workers for its temporary bus driver positions and then petitioned for H-2B visa workers to fill the positions, even though the H-2B visa program requires employers to recruit and hire available and qualified U.S. workers before they receive permission to hire temporary foreign workers. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from discriminating in the hiring process based on a worker’s citizenship status or national origin. Refusing to hire or consider U.S. citizens because of their citizenship status violates the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.

Under the settlement, El Expreso must engage in enhanced recruiting and job advertising efforts to attract qualified U.S. workers before using temporary visa programs. El Expreso must also set aside $197,500 to pay any wages lost by U.S. workers whose applications it improperly rejected or ignored, pay $31,500 in civil penalties to the United States, shall revise and/or create employment policies to prohibit discrimination against an individual's citizenship, immigration status, or national origin, shall train and have HR personnel must attend an IER employer webinar presentation, and be subject to monitoring compliance for 3 years by the IER.

This agreement is the sixth 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 nearly $1 million in back pay to affected U.S. workers and civil penalties to the United States.

If you want to know more information on issues related to employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at