08 Dec 2017
ATTORNEY Timothy H. Bellas, on behalf of JET Holding Co., e-mailed the following statement regarding a recent article in Marianas Variety titled “Saipan Restaurant distributes $40,000 in back pay to U.S. workers”:
“I represented JET in the settling of the legal matter on which the above entitled story is based.
“First and foremost it needs to be emphasized that JET is 100 percent locally owned and does not now nor did it previously intend to discriminate against U.S. citizens. On the contrary, JET and its management are very supportive of local community initiatives and charitable causes. Like any good business, JET must balance the welfare of its employees and the need to make a profit in order to stay in business. The CW-1 process is both time consuming and expensive. It is more efficient and cost effective for JET and any business to hire locally available U.S. citizen workers rather than CWs. However, the reality is that the CW program is necessary to supplement the local labor pool which is insufficient to meet the needs of the business community.
“The openings involved in this case were mostly for restaurant dishwasher positions which pay the current minimum hourly wage.
“A critical element in the process for obtaining approval of a CW application is the certification by the CNMI Department of Labor that the business is unable to find a worker locally to fill the position. The business must not only advertise the position opening, it must obtain the list from the DOL website of persons who are looking for work. Then it must contact those persons on the list to determine if they are qualified and if they are still looking for work and then post the reasons on the DOL website as to why the over 100 persons on the DOL list were not hired.
“I refer to this as a critical element because the DOL list contained more than 100 names of such persons. However, the list is not categorized as to the type of position that the persons are looking for. Therefore, an employer is obligated to try to make contact with over 100 people, even if many of those on the list placed their name on the list months if not years before. Many times the persons are not still available or interested in a dishwasher position. Many of the phone numbers on the DOL list are obsolete or the person who answers is not the person whose name is on the list.
“Lastly, what is not mentioned in the article whose facts are supplied by the U.S. Department of Justice, is that some of the positions were filled by workers who were not CW type employees.
“As it states in the 4th paragraph of the settlement agreement between JET and the DOJ and I quote: ‘… this Agreement does not constitute and shall not be construed as an admission by Respondent [meaning JET] of any act in violation of 8 USC §1324b [the Immigration and Nationality Act)…’ The settlement agreement goes on in the next paragraph to state that the parties simply wish to resolve the matter ‘…without further delay or expense…’ and that is why they entered into the settlement agreement.
“This case highlights the importance of keeping good records when contacting and interviewing prospective job applicants from the DOL website list. Perhaps another avenue to improve this process would be for DOL to review and update their list of persons looking for work every quarter; for DOL to verify that the persons on the list can be contacted at the phone number they have provided and that they are still looking for employment. That way many local businesses will not unwittingly find themselves in the same situation as JET.”
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/100700-jet-holding-issues-statement-on-doj-press-release