By: Bruce E. Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice has reached a settlement with Igloo Products Corp., based in Katy, Texas. The settlement resolves claims that Igloo did not consider workers in the United States (U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, asylees, refugees and recent lawful permanent residents) for temporary jobs because it set aside those positions for workers on temporary H-2B visas.

The investigation concluded Igloo failed to consider applicants in the United States for seasonal production helper positions because the company assumed that U.S. workers would not be interested in temporary seasonal employment. Instead, Igloo reserved its seasonal production helper positions for workers with H-2B visas based on their immigration status. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), employers generally cannot 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 settlement agreement terms, Igloo will pay $21,000 in civil penalties to the United States and make $40,000 in back pay available to eligible discrimination victims. Igloo will also revise its policies and procedures, and submit such to IER for approval, to comply with the INA’s anti-discrimination provision and thus, prohibit discrimination on the basis of citizenship/immigration status, and national origin in the hiring and firing process; train its employees about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision by attending a webinar provided by the IER; undertake additional recruitment efforts, including responding to “all U.S. applicants” within five days and posting a job advertisement on one online job portal for at least 45 days, before seeking H-2B visas in the future, and be subject to monitoring for a three-year period to ensure the company is complying with the agreement.

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.