Today, the Justice Department announced that Barrios Street Realty LLC, which is based out of Lockport, Louisiana, has paid roughly $108,000 to twelve United States workers in part of a settlement with the agency. The settlement stems from a March 2016 claim that Barrios discriminated against American workers in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, INA.
During the Justice Department’s investigation, it was discovered that Barrios and its agent, Jorge Arturo Guerrero Rodriguez, overlooked or rejected American workers without just reason. The U.S. workers, who were applying for positions as laborers and sheet metal roofers, were rejected in exchange for workers through the H-2B visa program. In the company’s petition for foreign workers, it falsely claimed that it was unable to find qualified workers in the United States.
Since the company refused to consider or hire qualified workers from the United States, due to their citizenship, it has effectively violated the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The settlement will require Barrios to pay $30,000 in civil penalties, as well as a maximum of $115,000 in back pay to the U.S. workers that were ultimately replaced by immigrant workers through the H-2B visa program.
The Justice Department has determined that 12 U.S. workers were entitled to receive back pay. The final payments were distributed to the workers last week. Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division spoke about the settlement. “The Department of Justice will not tolerate employers misusing visa programs to discriminated against U.S. workers. We will vigorously prosecute claims against companies that place U.S. workers in a disfavored status.”
The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Under the statute, companies are prohibited from discriminating based on citizenship or national origin when hiring or firing workers.