Recently, the DOJ has filed a lawsuit against Facebook over its PERM program. At its core, the complaint alleges that Facebook did not advertise as effectively or recruit as aggressively for its positions associated with PERM applications as it did for other openings. An excerpt from the press release is telling: “In its investigation, the department determined that Facebook’s ineffective recruitment methods dissuaded U.S. workers from applying to its PERM positions. The department concluded that, during the relevant period, Facebook received zero or one U.S. worker applicants for 99.7 percent of its PERM positions, while comparable positions at Facebook that were advertised on its careers website during a similar time period typically attracted 100 or more applicants each.” It is interesting that the DOJ has not alleged that Facebook failed to follow the DOL guidelines relative to recruitment activities but, is claiming that the recruitment activities expressly permitted by the DOL are ineffective. In this respect, I think we would all agree; the notion that a Sunday newspaper classified section is an effective place to recruit for professional jobs in 2020 is ridiculous. How, the DOJ can make the leap that the failure of the DOL to update its regulations would be the fault of the employer fastidiously following those regs is a stretch at best and an abuse of power at worse. Updating the PERM program to use data and modern recruitment techniques is the answer, not this lawsuit.
Last week the DOL published notice in the Federal Register of its intention to change the ETA 9089 form which is used for PERM filings. A copy of the form can be accessed here by going to its July 20th announcement and it has links included for the proposed form along with all attachments. There is a 60 day comment period ending on Sept 18, 2020 and our firm will be submitting comments on behalf of our clients.
The DOL recently released FY 2017 2nd Q PERM data. Note that the denial rate has increased slightly and over 25% of cases are either under audit or appeal.
On December 19th, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (“OFLC”) posted a FAQ that stated that it has withdrawn the PERM modernization rule that had been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget. No details were provided about why this rule was withdrawn. However, OFLC has confirmed that it is dedicated to streamlining and updating the PERM process. OFLC may submit a new PERM modernization rule in the future. However, the rule making process will have to start from the beginning. The Hammond Law Group is curious about the basis for withdrawing this rule and hopes that a new PERM modernization rule will be introduced in the future to reflect “real-world” recruitment and to make this process more efficient.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) recently meet with the Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (“OFLC”) for its quarterly stakeholder meeting. In this meeting, the OFLC informed AILA that it had suspended denying cases on the basis that the recruitment stated that a “competitive salary” was offered or that salary “depends on experience.” This decision was based upon the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeal’s (“BALCA”) recent findings in Matter of TekServices, which found these denials to be unsupported under the law. The Hammond Law Group hopes that BALCA is able to quickly overturn the denials that were made on this particular issue.
Many employers have been frustrated by the DOL’s decision to deny labor certifications where an employer used the language of “competitive salary” or “depends on experience” in portions of their recruitment. The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) provided a decision in Matter of TEK Services LLC that may assist employers in fighting against these unwarranted denials. In this case, the employer submitted a labor certification on behalf of a “Computer Systems Analyst.” As part of its recruitment effort, the employer stated that the position offered a “competitive salary” in the job order and on the employer’s website. The Certifying Officer (“CO”) denied the case based upon 20 C.F.R. § 656.24(b)(2) and noted that the advertisements placed by the employer do “not adequately apprise U.S. workers of the nature of the wage . . . also can dissuade some U.S. workers from applying for the job opportunity, and mislead others.” In reviewing 20 C.F.R. § 656.24(b)(2), BALCA noted that it provides the basis upon which a labor certification can be granted or denied, including how the CO should consider the employer’s compliance with the attestation that no qualified, available, and willing U.S. worker was applied. However, it does not list any requirement in regards to salary. Consequently, BALCA “rejected the CO’s effort to utilize 20 C.F.R. § 656.24(b)(2) as a catch-all denial ground encompassing any employer action that the CO deems problematic, despite citing no specific regulatory requirement that the employer has violated.” The Hammond Law Group applauds BALCA for reminding the DOL that it cannot make up new standards that have no basis in the federal regulations.
The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently ordered a PERM Labor Certification application to be certified following the Certifying Officer’s denial due to a salary range mismatch between the PERM application and the Notice of Filing.
In re Institute for Environmental Health, Inc., 2013-PERM-01963 (BALCA 2016) involved the classic PERM situation where a discrepancy between what was listed on the 9089 and prefilling recruitment/notice documentation leads to a denial. The employer in this case attested on the 9089 that the prevailing wage was $25,022.40 and that the offered wage was $25,023. However, on the notice of filing the employer listed a salary range of $25,023 to $34,837.
Given the exacting requirements of the PERM process lawyers generally aim to have their recruitment mirror the requirements listed on the 9089. The so called “matchy-matchy” doctrine has aided many lawyers navigating tricky PERM waters. In this case, BALCA ruled that the regulations is “clear and unambiguous” on allowing a salary range in the notice of filing even though the 9089 only listed the offered wage.
I suspect the Board’s action (three years after the initial denial) saving this PERM from floundering was well received by the employer. I also suspect that when counsel of record files another PERM case they will match their 9089 and recruitment / notices.
Even if one is ultimately correct and wins on appeal, knowing how cases are handled by DOL officers will save employers heartaches and legal fees. For guidance on your PERM application, contact Hammond Law Group.
The Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently released a FAQ on the information that should be included in recruitment reports. Recruitment reports are required to be prepared as part of the process of preparing a labor certification to be filed. The DOL specified that a recruitment report must include: (1) the total number of U.S. applicants who applied for the position, (2) the total number of U.S. applicants hired for the position, and (3) the total number of U.S. applicants who were rejected based upon a lawful job-related reason. The lawful job-related reasons for rejecting U.S. workers should be categorized. The DOL further specified that employers should list the total number of U.S. applicants who were interviewed and a list of the names of U.S. workers who were rejected under each category. Finally, if an applicant was rejected under multiple categories, the category that he is listed under must state the multiple bases of rejection. For instance, if a candidate was rejected because he did not have the necessary education and did not have the required total years of experience, he should fall under a category titled “candidates lacking the required education and experience.” The DOL specified that this type of categorization will “enable the certifying officer to clearly establish the reason for disqualification of each U.S. worker.”
The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA”) recently considered whether a website advertisement that did not list the location of employment failed to apprise U.S. workers of the nature of the role. In Matter of VLS It Consulting, Inc., the employer submitted a labor certification for the position of “Computer Systems Manager/ Training Division Manager.” The case was audited and denied on the basis that the website advertisement did not list the geographic area of employment. The Certifying Officer argued that the lack of worksite location information violated 20 C.F.R. §656.17(f)(4). The employer appealed and argued that its corporate address was ‘listed on the homepage and the ‘contact us’ portion of the website.” BALCA reviewed the case and reminded the Department of Labor that 20 C.F.R. §656.17(f)(4) only applies to advertisements placed in newspapers of general circulation. Thus, this statutory section could not serve as a basis for denial. Furthermore, BALCA determined that since the employer’s address was listed on other sections of its website, no U.S. worker was misinformed of the nature of the job opportunity. BALCA reiterated that “when relevant information on a website advertisement is a ‘simple mouse click’ away, denial of certification is not supported by the regulations.” While this case does support the idea that the location of employment is not required to be listed on website advertisements, the Hammond Law Group suggests that all advertisements include the location of employment to avoid improper denials by the Department of Labor.
Recently, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (“BALCA’) considered whether a search results page could serve as alternative documentation to dated copies of the posting on the employer’s website. In Matter of Spring Branch Independent School District, the employer sponsored the position of “Elementary (Pre-K-5th grade) – Bilingual (Spanish) Teacher.” The case was audited and the employer submitted a copy from its human resources job search page showing the position’s title, the salary, the position’s classification as professional, and that the role would have a probationary contract. No other information regarding the role was provided on this page. The Department of Labor (“DOL”) denied the case on the basis that the employer failed to provide copies of the website posting that included the language of the advertisement. In reviewing the case, BALCA noted that an employer may provide alternative documentation of its website positing beyond dated copies of the website listing. However, it also found the content of these advertisements must be provided so that the DOL can determine “whether the advertisement is for the occupation listed on the ETA Form 9089 and whether the advertisement was placed in good faith and the job was clearly open to U.S. applicants.” Consequently, the denial was upheld. While employers can use alternative documentation to prove that a position was listed on the employer’s website, the Hammond Law Group suggests that dated copies of the website posting that include the language of the advertisement be included in the recruitment report and in any response to an audit.