Justice Department Recognizes Anniversary of Buy American and Hire American Executive Order by Reaffirming its Commitment to Fight Discrimination Against U.S. Workers
(STL.News) – Today, the Department of Justice recognized the third anniversary of the President’s Buy American and Hire American (BAHA) Executive Order, which directs federal agencies to protect U.S. workers’ jobs from employers that abuse temporary work visa programs.
“On this anniversary, the Department of Justice reaffirms its commitment to protect U.S. workers from discrimination,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “Our message to workers is clear: if companies deny you employment by illegally preferring 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 looking for employment as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19.”
Consistent with the BAHA Executive Order, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department’s Civil Rights Division launched the Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative in 2017. Through this initiative, the department targets, investigates, and brings enforcement actions against employers that intentionally discriminate against U.S. workers due to a preference for temporary visa workers. IER has reached numerous settlements under this 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, and H-2B visa programs. For example, last month IER reached a settlement with a Maryland construction firm, resolving claims that the company violated the law by preferring H-2B visa holders over qualified U.S. workers.
The department also has increased its collaboration with federal partners under the Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative to increase information sharing, promote discrimination referrals, and improve efforts to target wrongdoers. The department has entered into or expanded existing partnerships with the Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State.
Workers and their advocates can contact IER for information on protections under the law. Workers can call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired) to get information on rights under the law IER enforces or to report discrimination. IER offers free webinars for workers and their advocates on protections from discrimination under the law that IER enforces. In addition, applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; or discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge.
Under the initiative, IER has also published materials to educate the public about discrimination against U.S. workers, including Information for Employers About Citizenship Status Discrimination and Best Practices for Recruiting and Hiring Workers. Employers can call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired) for information on how to avoid unlawful discrimination. Finally, IER offers free webinars for employers to learn more about the anti-discrimination law that IER enforces.