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Department of Justice settles claim against Texas IT company

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The Department of Justice today announced that it signed a settlement agreement with Ikon Systems, LLC (Ikon), an IT staffing and recruiting company based in Texas. This is the eleventh settlement by the Civil Rights Division under its 2017 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. Today’s settlement resolves claims that Ikon routinely discriminated against U.S. workers by posting job advertisements specifying a preference for applicants with temporary work visas, and that Ikon failed to consider at least one U.S. citizen applicant who applied to a discriminatory advertisement.  

“Employers, no matter their size and no matter their industry, cannot limit employment opportunities only to temporary visa holders. When employers post job advertisements that discriminate against U.S. workers, they violate the Immigration and Nationality Act’s citizenship-status discrimination provision,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “Our message is clear: if employers discriminate in advertising, recruiting, or hiring against U.S. workers by illegally preferring temporary visa holders, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will act to protect them under the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

The Department’s investigation began after a U.S. citizen filed a discrimination complaint with the Civil Rights Division against Ikon. Based on its investigation, the Department concluded that from May 8, 2019, to September 21, 2019, Ikon posted at least eight facially discriminatory job advertisements targeting non-U.S. citizens with immigration statuses associated with employment-based visas. For instance, the investigation revealed that one of Ikon’s advertisements stated, “Looking for OPT, CPT, H4 EAD, and H-1B transfer.” The Department also determined that Ikon failed to properly consider a U.S. citizen’s application to one of the job postings due to his citizenship status.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), employers are not allowed to discriminate in recruitment or hiring based on citizenship status. The INA protects U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, refugees, asylees, and recent lawful permanent residents from citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, and recruitment or referral for a fee. Workers who fall outside of these categories are not protected from citizenship status discrimination under the INA.  

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Ikon will pay $27,000 in civil penalties to the United States, revise its policies and procedures, and train relevant employees and agents on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision. Separately, Ikon will pay $15,000 to the affected U.S. citizen.

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) has reached 11 settlements under the Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, and employers have agreed to pay or have distributed 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. In addition, the Department is currently litigating a U.S. Workers Initiative case, which involves a December 3, 2020 lawsuit filed against a major technology company for allegedly refusing to recruit, consider, or hire qualified and available U.S. workers in favor of temporary visa holders, including in the H‑1B visa program.

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practicesretaliation and intimidation

Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video.  Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment, or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public also can contact IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688; call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email [email protected]; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.

The Civil Rights Division wants to hear about civil rights violations. Members of the public can report possible civil rights violations through the Civil Rights Division’s reporting portal.

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