- The U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Rights Division said the agency has partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to better protect U.S. workers from discrimination by employers that prefer to hire temporary visa workers over qualified U.S. workers, it announced last week.
- DOJ said the partnership will enhance its efforts to stop companies from discriminating against U.S. workers and assist DOL's Employment and Training Administration in identifying noncompliance with its foreign labor certification process.
- Since launching the Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative last year, DOJ said it has opened dozens of investigations, filed one lawsuit and reached settlement agreements with three employers. DOL has helped with the effort, but DOJ said the new partnership expands and formalizes that relationship.
It's no secret that the administration is committed to its "buy American and hire American" executive order. In October, DOJ prosecuted its first employer under the initiative, charging a Colorado company with discriminating against American workers by preferring to hire seasonal foreign workers instead. Crop Production Services Inc. did not hire at least three workers in 2016 because it instead hired temporary foreign workers with H-2A visas, DOJ alleged.
But businesses generally say they're feeling the squeeze in a tight labor market and need these visa-holders to keep operations running smoothly. From food service to information technology, employers say restrictive immigration policies are at least partially to blame for staffing issues and slow job growth.
To cope with this perfect storm of problems that has created a skills gap, employers are getting creative. They're upskilling current employees, turning to untapped talent pools and working to improve their employee value propositions. And when it comes to the visa process, experts say businesses should ensure they're in a good position to defend the need for a foreign worker.