DoL Adds Big D.C.-Area School System to List of H-1B 'Willful Violators'

By David North, April 6, 2011

One of the nation's major educational users of the H-1B program has been cited as a "willful violator" of that program by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Prince George's County (Md.) school system has been ordered by DoL to pay $5.9 million dollars in fines and back pay to about 1,000 of its foreign worker teachers, in a highly unusual bit of aggressive enforcement by the department, as reported by the Washington Post. (The DoL press release is here.)

CIS has just published a report, "Taking Names: List of Firms Barred from Foreign Worker Programs Likely Just Scratches the Surface", in which we noted how rarely the Labor Department punished erring H-1B employers.

CIS will soon publish another report, this on the use of the H-1B program by school systems; in that one we point out that PG County, with 233 new H-1B visas issued in fiscal year 2010, was the third-largest school system in the nation in terms of H-1B use. It was ranked only by Baltimore City, with 399 new H-1Bs, and Dallas, with 311. Although we knew that there had been abuses in the PG system in the past, as pointed out by the AFL-CIO, we did not know about the then on-going investigation by the DoL.

According to the Post, "School officials recruited foreign instructors... but then required that the teachers cover thousands of dollars in expenses related to getting temporary work visas – expenses that, Labor Department officials said, should have been covered by the system. That violated laws requiring that U.S. and foreign teachers be compensated equally."