Justice Department Settles Claim Against Virginia-Based Staffing Company for Improperly Favoring Temporary Visa Workers Over U.S. Workers
(STL.News) – The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement agreement with ASTA CRS Inc., a provider of IT staffing and consulting services with offices in Ashburn, Virginia, and Greenbelt, Maryland. This is the ninth 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.
The settlement resolves a claim that ASTA’s Maryland office discriminated against U.S. workers because of their citizenship status when it posted a job advertisement specifying a preference for non-U.S. citizens who held temporary work visas.
“When a company advertises a job by stating a preference for temporary visa workers, it deters qualified and available U.S. workers from applying and denies those U.S. workers equal opportunity to compete for that employment,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “Our message to workers is clear: if companies advertise a preference for temporary visa holders over U.S. workers, the Department of Justice will hold them accountable. This is especially important at a time when more U.S. workers may be seeking employment as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19.”
The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) has reached numerous settlements under the Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, and employers have distributed or agreed to pay a combined total of more than $1.2 million in back pay to affected U.S. workers and civil penalties to the United States. These settlements involve employers that discriminated in their use of the H-1B, H-2A, H-2B and F-1 visa programs.
Based on its investigation of ASTA, the department concluded that ASTA’s Maryland office posted a job advertisement aimed exclusively at non-U.S. citizens with certain temporary visas, including H-1B visas and F-1 student visas. The Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from discriminating in hiring by preferring candidates with temporary work visas over U.S. workers. Under the INA, employers cannot discriminate based on citizenship, immigration status or national origin at any stage of their hiring process, including the posting of job advertisements, regardless of whether it affects the final hiring outcome.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, ASTA will train its employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, change its policies and procedures to comply with this law, and be subject to two years of department monitoring requirements, including providing regular reports to the department.
The Civil Rights Division’s IER Section is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits, among other things, citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.