ALJ approves Settlement Agreement in Prince George’s County H-1B Teachers case

On September 20, 2011, the Office of the Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) of the U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC, issued a Decision and Order approving a Settlement Agreement between the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, and Board of Education of Prince George’s County in the matter of violations related to teachers in H-1B nonimmigrant status. A determination by the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division had been issued on April 4, 2011 after an investigation that stated that the Board of Education of Prince George’s County had committed numerous violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act, specifically: willful failure to pay wages as required, failure to pay wages as required, and failure to maintain documentation as required.  The violations listed were related to 1,044 H-1B workers employed by the St. George’s County Public Schools, most of which were most likely teachers on H-1BThe terms of the approved settlement include:payment of over $4.2 million in back wages to the 1,044 workers identified in the Administrator’s determination;
agreement to a two-year debarment period in which
petitions filed to the Department of Homeland Security under Sections 204 (employment-based immigrant petitions) and 214(c) (employment-based non-immigrant petitions including H’s and L’s) will not be approved and the Employment and Training Administration of the Dept. of Labor will invalidate the Board’s Labor Condition Applications for H-1B, E-3 and H-1B1 workers and will not accept for filing any application or attestation submitted to the Board for permanent labor certification or under the H-non-immigrant classification (including H-1B, H-1A, H-2A and H-2B);
payment of a civil penalty in the amount of $100,000 conditioned on the two-year debarment, which was reduced from over $1.7 million (if the Board does submit an application, they will be liable for the full penalty). In addition to the Board, six individual H-1B workers in the Prince George’s County public schools had objected to the Administrator’s determination and requested hearings. Five of the six individual prosecuting parties raised only the issue of debarment, arguing that being unable to extend their H-1Bs and continue or start the permanent residency process through the Board was unfair and contractually disallowed.  A sixth individual additionally objected to the Administrator’s determination for failing to address his claims of retaliation or discrimination from the Board after he raised concerns regarding the H-1B program.  While the September 20, 2011 Order approved the Settlement Agreement,  a subsequent Order by the ALJ dated October 5, 2011 dismissed all the cases objecting to the debarment but allowed the case regarding the possible discrimination from the Board to go forward.  .  

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