Louisiana Company Debarred From Obtaining Visas Based on Claims It Did Not Hire Citizens

A Louisiana-based realty company has agreed to a three year ban on seeking non-immigrant visa workers as a condition for settling allegations that it discriminated against U.S. citizens by giving preference to those in the country on temporary work visas for sheet metal roofing and laborer jobs. The "debarment" of Barrios Street Realty LLC and its agent, Jorge Arturo Guerrero Rodriguez, is the first time the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") has obtained such a voluntary concession as a way to settle allegations that an entity violated the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision, according to the DOJ announcement which was made on March 21, 2016. The realty also agreed to pay $30,000 in fines and $115,000 in back pay and to be subject to three years of federal monitoring, as a way to settle claims that it rejected 73 U.S. workers who were qualified for the positions before looking to hire foreign workers under the H-2B visa program. The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, a part of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, initiated an investigation into the matter in December, 2014. It concluded that there was a reasonable cause to suspect that the realty practiced discrimination based on applicants' citizenship status, according to the settlement. The realty company is also barred from threatening, intimidating, coercing or retaliating against anyone who may have participated in the DOJ's investigation, according to the settlement.