Skip to main content
Press Release

Justice Department Settles with Construction Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Priority Construction Corporation, located in Baltimore, Maryland. The settlement resolves the department’s claims that Priority Construction violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by failing to consider workers in the United States (such as U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, asylees, refugees and recent lawful permanent residents) for employment opportunities due to the company’s preference for workers with H-2B visas.  

“Employers should fully and fairly consider the qualifications of all applicants and not allow unlawful preferences based on citizenship or immigration status to affect the hiring process,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to eradicating discriminatory barriers and protecting workers from hiring discrimination.”

The department’s investigation determined that from at least Jan. 1, 2019 to March 11, 2019, Priority Construction discriminated against applicants in the United States by failing to fully and fairly consider them for temporary laborer positions, due to the company’s preference for H-2B visa workers. Specifically, Priority Construction claimed at the time it could not find sufficient qualified U.S. workers, when in fact it had not taken the time to fairly assess the local applicants who had applied to determine if they were qualified. The Department of Labor requires employers seeking permission to hire H-2B workers to first hire all qualified and available U.S. workers who apply by the relevant deadline. The department also concluded that the company attempted to discourage U.S. workers from applying by putting unnecessarily restrictive job requirements in a 2019 job announcement, such as three months of experience, when it would have accepted workers with one month of experience. The INA prohibits employers from refusing to consider, recruit or hire U.S. citizens and protected non-U.S. citizens – such as U.S. nationals, asylees, refugees, and recent lawful permanent residents – because of their citizenship or immigration status.    

Under the settlement, Priority Construction will pay $40,600 in civil penalties to the United States, and conduct enhanced U.S. worker recruitment and advertising for future positions. The settlement also requires Priority Construction to be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements and train employees on how to avoid discrimination under the INA. 

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation

Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. More information on how employers can avoid citizenship status discrimination is available here. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment, or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public can also 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); email; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.

Updated October 27, 2021

Civil Rights
Labor & Employment
Press Release Number: 21-1051