Recruitment Efforts: Employer cannot reject otherwise qualified candidates based on resume alone

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Applications (BALCA) recently affirmed the final determination of the Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification.

In the present case, the petitioner (employer), a plumbing and compacting installation service filed an application for labor certification for the position of Plumber on behalf of a foreign alien beneficiary. Following recruitment, the employer filed a recruitment report in which it rejected five U.S. applicants. Only two of the applicants’ qualifications are questioned on appeal. According to the recruitment report, Applicant 1 was rejected because his resume indicated that he did not possess any U.S. experience as a plumber, and the employer thereafter assumed that he/she obviously had no knowledge of state and city plumbing codes, a job requirement for the proffered position. Applicant 2 was rejected because the applicant’s experience as a Plumber dated from the period of 1978 to 1984, after which he/she only worked as a Supervisor to several plumbers and helpers. The Employer stated that they desired the services of a raw plumber not a supervisor.

After thorough review of the documentation presented with the application for labor certification, the CO issued a Notice of Findings (NOF) proposing to deny certification. The CO noted that the employer unlawfully rejected applicants 1 and 2 based on resumes alone. With Applicant 1, it was not altogether established that he/she was not familiar with applicable New York (NY) plumbing codes and specifications and an interview would have clearly established the Applicant’s qualifications for the proffered position. The 2nd Applicant was rejected solely because he was overqualified according to his resume. In response to the NOF, the employer filed a rebuttal letter indicating why Applicants 1 and 2 were not further interviewed. The employer argued that the first applicants resume did not indicate any plumbing experience in NY, and there was no reason to assume that his home improvement experience in NY involved any plumbing. Accordingly, under those circumstances, the employer felt that he was not obliged to interview the applicant. In regards to Applicant 2, the Employer relied upon the applicant’s present occupation and stated that no one willing regresses in their career; therefore the applicant cannot be considered to be willing to be available and willing for the job of raw plumber. Thereafter, the CO issued a final determination denying certification. The CO indicated that the relevant standard in determining whether a resume merits further investigation is whether or not there is a reasonable possibility that an applicant may meet the employer’s minimum requirements despite an apparent shortcoming on the applicant’s resume.

Upon BALCA review of the record, it was determined that the resumes of Applicants 1 and 2 raised the reasonable prospect that they were capable of performing the job offered. Accordingly, the employer had the duty to interview the applicants or verify their qualifications in some other manner other than just making assumptions based on their resumes. Since the employer rejected the applicants without interviewing them or otherwise verifying their qualifications or lack thereof, the CO properly denied certification. The burden of proof was with the employer, although the employer attempted to shift the burden to the CO, the employer was unable to satisfy the burden and accordingly the certification was denied.