By: Bruce E. Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice has reached a settlement agreement with Challenger Sports Corporation, a soccer instruction company based in Lenexa, Kansas, which runs soccer programs nationwide. The settlement resolves the claim that Challenger did not consider U.S. worker applicants for full-time soccer instructor jobs in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Northern Virginia because the company preferred to hire workers on H-2B temporary visas.

Based on its investigation, the IER concluded, in Spring 2019, Challenger’s Baltimore office (1) failed to consider U.S. worker applicants for full-time soccer instructor positions because staff assumed that U.S. workers, based on their citizenship status, would not be interested in the positions; and (2) expected to fill the positions with workers on H-2B seasonal employment visas. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), employers cannot generally discriminate based on citizenship, immigration status, or national origin at any stage of the hiring process. In addition, the Department of Labor requires employers seeking permission to hire H-2B workers to first hire all qualified and available U.S. workers who apply by the relevant deadline.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Challenger will pay $6,000 in civil penalties and make $36,820 in back pay available to eligible discrimination victims. Challenger will also change its policies and procedures to comply with the INA’s anti-discrimination provision and train its employees on the requirements of this law through an IER webinar before applying for H-2B visas in the future. In the event Challenger continues to use the H-2B program, it must engage in supplement recruitment of U.S. workers for all available work opportunities before employing H-2B visa workers to do that work, which includes Challenger posting a job advertisement on CareerPlug no later than three months before the projected start date of work and shall not be removed until 21 calendar days before the start date of work. Finally, Challenger is subject to two years of department monitoring requirements, including providing regular reports to the department.

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 http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.