By: Bruce E Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

In Zajradhara v. GIG Partners, 14 OCAHO no. 1363c (Mar. 2021), the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) dismissed a Complaint and found GIG Partners did not violate 8 U.S.C. § 1324b because it did not refuse to hire Zajradhara because of his national origin or U.S. citizenship status nor unlawfully retaliate against him. This decision arose out of a Complaint filed by Zajradhara alleging he was not hired for a bar manager position nor waitstaff position and was retaliated against by being refused entry into GIG Partners’ establishment during business hours.

GIG Partners is a restaurant/bar located in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. GIG Partners admitted it was looking for eligible workers when Zajradhara interviewed for a vacant bartender position, but he was not interviewed for the waitstaff position because he had previously interviewed for the position and had submitted the same resume as before. GIG Partners stated Zajradhara was not hired for the bartender or waitstaff positions because he was deemed unqualified. GIG Partners did not find a qualified candidate for the bartender position; thus, it expanded the duties of the assistant bar manager, who is a U.S. citizen. For the waitstaff position, it hired a qualified person. Further, GIG Partners conceded Zajradhara was banned from entering GIG Partners’ establishment because of his “long and documented history of violence and harassment against its employees and customers.”

Concerning Zajradhara’s national origin claim, OCAHO found Zajradhara’s national origin was presumed to be “American,” but Zajradhara failed to establish GIG Partners’ knowledge of his national origin; thus, the claim of national origin discrimination was dismissed.

Concerning Zajradhara’s citizenship status claim, OCAHO found Zajradhara’s claim failed when his qualifications were reviewed. Specifically, GIG Partners showed his prior work experience included disc jockey, merchandiser, and advertiser but no skills or experience related to waiting tables or managing a bar. Zajradhara did not establish a prima facie case of citizenship discrimination because he failed to demonstrate he was qualified for the positions for which he applied. Thus, this claim was dismissed.

For a retaliation claim, one must identify a protected activity. In the case at bar, Zajradhara identified at least one instance of contact with Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), which is protected under § 1324b(a)(5) as it constitutes participation in a charge. Specifically, on April 4, 2017, Zajradhara received correspondence from the IER informing him of his right to file a complaint with OCAHO. Zajradhara met his burden demonstrating knowledge on the part of GIG Partners because their knowledge can be inferred since IER would have likely contacted GIG Partners when it investigated the matter. GIG Partners did not provide any evidence indicating a lack of awareness of this protected activity.

OCAHO assumed from the record the alleged retaliation occurred on or about December 31, 2018, when GIG Partners informed Zajradhara that he was not permitted to enter the premises and either called or threatened to call law enforcement when Zajradhara went to GIG Partners’ establishment. However, Zajradhara provided no evidence or argument causally linking the protected activity and the December 2018 instance where he was asked to leave GIG Partners’ establishment.

Even assuming arguendo that Zajradhara had demonstrated a prima facie case, GIG Partners provided sufficient evidence of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason through an affidavit stating its decision to bar Zajradhara from its establishment had nothing to do with discrimination but, rather, “[b]ecause of the frequency and level of the incidents involving Zajradhara, and in order to protect their employees and customers.” Furthermore, Zajradhara failed to establish that GIG Partners’ legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason was pretextual. Thus, Zajradhara’s retaliation claim is dismissed.

If you want to know more information on discrimination related to citizenship status or national origin, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at