By Tim Gardner
The United States Department of Justice has hit an Avery County landscaping business with penalties after it ruled the local company was hiring foreign workers while discriminating against Americans.
The Department of Justice, under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced June 26 that it had reached a settlement with Triple H Services LLC, located at 404 Linville Street in Newland, after the business was accused of hiring foreign workers imported to the United States on the H-2B visa program, rather than hiring American citizens who were available to take its jobs.
In the settlement, Triple H Services LLC agreed to establish a back pay fund capped at $85,000.00 to compensate those affected by its practices pay $15,600.00 in civil penalties, recruit U.S. workers and be subjected to monitoring by the U.S. Department of Justice for three years.
And in its announcement release, the Department of Justice noted that Triple H conducts business in Virginia and four other states.
Following a Department of Justice investigation — led by the Civil Rights Division’s Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative — the agency ruled that Triple H misled American workers in job advertisements for more than 450 landscaping jobs in a manner that was designed to keep or discourage Americans from applying for the positions.
When Americans did qualify and apply for its landscaping jobs, the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation concluded that Triple H “did not consider” those U.S. workers for the positions in Virginia, and “instead hired H-2B visa workers,” the agency’s release also stated.
“Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against U.S. workers in hiring because of their citizenship status,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore said in a statement. “The Department will continue to fight to ensure that U.S. workers are not disadvantaged because of their citizenship status.”
The DOJ investigation also maintained that in several states where jobs were available, Triple H had ended multiple online job applications before American workers could start and finish the process, instead quickly filling the landscaping positions with H-2B foreign visa workers.
Peggy Howell, general manager and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Triple H, issued the following, and previously published, statement in response to the DOJ announcement: “It has always been the practice of Triple H Services LLC, to hire U.S. workers who apply and qualify for our available jobs. Triple H has done everything possible to follow the rules of this highly regulated program. We have always followed all guidelines of the U.S. Department of Labor in securing H-2B visas. In this case, the U.S. Department of Justice is asking us to go above and beyond the requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor. We look forward to working with the Department of Justice on additional programs that go beyond what the Department of Labor requires.”
The DOJ also is set to further its initiative of protecting American citizens and workers by joining with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency to denaturalize thousands of foreign nationals who are accused of defrauding the U.S. government in their citizenship applications.
For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar; email [email protected]; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.