Unlawful Rejection of U.S. Workers: BALCA affirms Certifying Officer’s denial of labor certification

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) affirmed the final determination of the Certifying Officer (CO) denying a labor certification application because the employer’s rebuttal was insufficient to establish a lawful related reason for rejecting U.S. workers.

In the aforementioned case, the employer, a telecommunications company, filed an application for labor certification on behalf of an alien worker for the position of Information Technology Director. The only job requirement listed on Form ETA 750A was a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, no additional training or experience were listed. Additionally, the job was advertised as only requiring a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. Subsequently, the Certifying Officer (CO) issued a Notice of Findings (NOF) to the employer proposing to deny certification. The employer rejected three U.S. applicants for grounds not stated in ETA 750A. The reason for rejection was insufficient knowledge of Telecommunications, Prepaid Phone Card Systems and the technology involved including TDM and Voip Protocols, Dialogic boards, Parity Software Vos and Visual FoxPro programming; however, the only job requirement listed on ETA 750A was a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. The second ground for certification denial was that it appeared that the Alien was hired without possessing these specialized requirements. In response to the NOF, the employer filed a rebuttal letter providing information as to the alien’s qualifications for the proffered position but failed to address the rejection of the three U.S. workers. Thereafter the CO issued a final determination denying certification because the employer failed to provide reason for its unlawful rejection of U.S. workers. The employer then filed a request for BALCA review.

Upon review, BALCA relied upon the regulations set forth in Section 656.25(e) which provide that the employer’s rebuttal evidence must rebut all of the findings in the NOF and that all findings not rebutted shall be deemed admitted. Accordingly, the CO’s finding which is not addressed in the rebuttal is deemed admitted. The regulations also provide that if U.S. workers have applied for the position, the employer must document that they were rejected solely for lawful job-related reasons. BALCA relied upon case law and stated that a labor certification is properly denied where an employer unlawfully rejects workers who meet stated minimum education and experience requirements, and if the employer has specific requirements, they should be specified in the application. In the instant case, the employer contended that the knowledge it was requiring was implicit in the nature of the job offered. BALCA responded to the employer’s argument by stating that lack of knowledge of telecommunications is too vague and generic to provide a meaningful objective basis for rejection of applications. Further, the lack of knowledge of prepaid phone card systems, in contrast, is a very specific requirement; however, the employer omitted any argument about this particular requirement. The burden of proof lies with the employer, and it was the employer’s responsibility to document why its knowledge requirements were so fundamental to the position that they did not need to be listed as requirements on the ETA 750A. Therefore, BALCA conceded the final determination of the CO and affirmed the denial of the labor certification.