The Justice Department today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with CFA Institute (CFAI), an international association of investment professionals, headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia. CFAI offers a global certification for Chartered Financial Analysts who pass an exam that CFAI administers annually. The settlement resolves the Department’s investigation into whether CFAI violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by preferring to hire H-1B visa holders over U.S. workers when it selected CFAI exam graders from its members. This is the fifth settlement under the Civil Rights Division’s 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. It is the first of those settlements to involve the H-1B visa program.
The Department’s independent investigation concluded that from at least November 2016 through January 2018, CFAI set aside annual exam-grading positions for its members who required or had H-1B visas or other high-skill temporary visas, based on their citizenship status. The Department also concluded that, in doing so, CFAI failed to consider equally qualified U.S. workers for such positions. The INA prohibits employers from discriminating in the hiring process based on a worker’s citizenship status or national origin. Refusing to hire U.S. citizens, or setting aside positions for visa holders, because of their citizenship status violates the INA.
“The Civil Rights Division works diligently to stop employers from unlawfully denying employment opportunities to qualified and available U.S. workers,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “We appreciate CFAI’s cooperation and look forward to working with the organization to ensure that it does not disqualify exam graders based on their citizenship status.”
Under the settlement, CFAI will pay $321,000 in civil penalties to the United States, train employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.
Under the Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, the Civil Rights Division has opened dozens of investigations, filed one lawsuit, and reached settlement agreements with five employers. Since the Initiative’s inception, employers have agreed to pay or have distributed over $320,000 in back pay to affected U.S. workers. The Division has also increased its collaboration with other federal agencies to combat discrimination and abuse by employers using temporary visa workers.
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 citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.
More information on how employers can avoid unlawful citizenship status discrimination is available here. 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 IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.
Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; or discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge or contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.