BALCA upholds denial of Labor application – not good faith recruitment

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently upheld the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of Accountant. This LC was filed prior to the effective date of the “PERM” regulations.

The employer filed a LC on behalf of an alien worker in July of 2004. In the spring of 2006, the employer submitted its recruitment results indicating that nineteen resumes were received: some candidates did not have the requisite degree/experience, two candidates were found to be overqualified, and several other candidates were either unwilling to take the job or did not respond to contacts by the employer. Thereafter, in August of 2007, the CO issued a Notice of Findings (NOF) proposing to deny certification on the basis of the rejection of U.S. workers for other than lawful, job-related reasons. The CO found that the Employer had placed telephone calls to U.S. applicants and some of these were unsuccessful. The CO requested documentation of attempts to contact the referred applicants in a timely manner, and suggested that such documentation could include evidence such as certified mail receipts, itemized telephone bills or other documentation of timely contact which would establish good faith recruitment. The CO stated that failure to provide lawful, job-related reasons for their rejection was a violation of Federal regulations. The employer submitted its rebuttal arguing that it did contact the U.S. applicants, and asserting that it was in the process of obtaining its telephone bills. Additionally, the employer argued that their rejection of the candidates was consistent with normal business practices of the industry and its own normal practice. The CO did not accept the Employer’s argument regarding good faith recruitment, noting that placing unanswered telephone class without making additional attempts to contact U.S. applicants did not constitute good faith recruitment. Thereafter, the CO issued its final determination denying certification for the same grounds contained in the NOF. Subsequently, the Employer requested BALCA review.

Upon BALCA review, it was determined that both of the grounds cited by the CO for denying certification were supported by BALCA caselaw. First, an employer who does no more than make unanswered phone calls or leave a message on an answering machine has not made a reasonable effort to contact the U.S. worker, where the addresses were available for applicants; in such a case the employer should follow up with a letter – which may be certified mail, return receipt requested. Second, the Employer rejected at least two applicants as overqualified. The Board has repeatedly ruled that an employer who is recruiting pursuant to a labor certification application may not reject an applicant solely because that applicant is overqualified.

Accordingly, the CO properly denied labor certification .