Legal

DOJ Sues Staffing Agency for Violating Immigration and Nationality Act

By Judy Greenwald

May. 24, 2012

The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against a staffing agency, charging it with firing a worker for objecting to the firm’s preference for hiring foreign nationals with temporary work visas to American citizens.

According to a statement issued by the DOJ on May 22, the complaint charges Jersey City, New Jersey-based Whiz International L.L.C., an information technology staffing company, with violating the antidiscrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act when it terminated the employee in retaliation for expressing opposition to the firm’s alleged preference for hiring foreign nationals with temporary work visas to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

The Act’s antidiscrimination provision prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who oppose a practice that is illegal under the statute, or who attempt to assert rights under the statute, according to the DOJ.

The complaint seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the respondent, monetary damages to the employee and civil penalties, according to the department’s statement, which did not identify the employee beyond stating she had served as a receptionist and recruiter.

Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s civil rights division, said in the statement, “Employers cannot punish employees who try to do the right thing and take reasonable measures to shed light on a practice they believe may be discriminatory. Employers must ensure that their practices conform to the antidiscrimination provisions of the INA and retaliation will not be tolerated.”

A company spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

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