The federal government announced Tuesday that J.E.T. Holding Co. Inc. or JET has paid $40,000 to nine U.S. citizens pursuant to a settlement.
The payments, which JET distributed last week, are part of a Jan. 17 settlement that resolved claims that JET discriminated against U.S. workers in favor of temporary foreign visa workers, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act or INA, according to the Department of Justice.
In its investigation leading up to the settlement, the department found that from approximately January to June 2016, JET, which operates a restaurant in Saipan, routinely refused to hire qualified U.S. citizens and other work-authorized individuals, including lawful permanent residents, for dishwasher positions because of their citizenship status.
Instead, JET preferred to fill the positions with temporary foreign visa workers, according to the department’s investigation.
Under the INA, employers cannot prefer to hire temporary foreign visa workers over available and qualified U.S. workers based on citizenship status. Individuals born in Saipan are U.S. citizens and its population includes work-authorized lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees.
After the investigation was resolved through a settlement, the department’s Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney Office for the District of Guam collaborated to identify individuals affected by the alleged discrimination.
The department determined that nine U.S. citizens were eligible to receive back pay, and the payments JET distributed to them last week exhausted the $40,000 back pay fund established under the agreement.
“We are pleased that U.S. workers received back pay to compensate them for the discrimination they faced, and that JET has worked to improve its hiring practices,” said John M. Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to holding employers accountable when they place U.S. workers in a second-class status.”
The law prohibits, among other things, citizenship, immigration status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices in employment eligibility verification; retaliation; and intimidation.
In February 2017, IER launched its Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, an initiative aimed at targeting, investigating, and bringing enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of foreign visa workers.
IER filed the first suit as part of the Initiative in October against a Loveland, Colorado, company for allegedly discriminating against U.S. workers.