By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has reached a settlement agreement resolving claims that Hallaton Inc., a Maryland construction firm 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 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.

The investigation determined from at least December 1, 2017 to at least June 1, 2018, Hallaton routinely discriminated against U.S. workers by failing to consider them for construction laborer positions. Despite receiving over 24 applications from available and qualified U.S. workers through the Maryland Workforce Exchange, Hallaton hired none of them. Instead, the company 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, conduct enhanced U.S. worker recruitment, revise employment policies related to immigration compliance, train its human resources personnel on the requirements of the INA’s antidiscrimination provision through attendance at an IER webinar, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for two years.

If you want to know more about issues of citizenship status discrimination and 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