For Maryland’s guest teachers, an expensive lesson in labor rights

The U.S. Department of Labor ruled in April that Prince George’s County, Maryland, in suburban Washington, had violated federal labor law by failing to reimburse immigrant teachers for visa application fees. It fined the schools $1.7 million and also ordered them to pay $4.2 million in back pay to 1,044 teachers, most of whom come from the Philippines. “If that finding stands, the system will be unable to renew any three-year visas for its foreign employees.” Many teachers are distraught about the prospect of losing their jobs and green cards, which could happen as early as next month; Charisse Cabrera “said she would rather keep her job than recoup the back pay, about $4,000 per teacher.” [Washington Post,]


  • Is there such a thing as a conditional greencard? I thought once you had that you no longer needed employer sponsorship. Losing sponsorship for a visa I can completely understand, the greencard comment is a bit wierd.

  • Department of Labor wins back pay for workers; gets them deported. The brave new world of massive American bureaucracy, the system that one and two-thirds of the major political parties and at least half the electorate seems to think is the answer to all of life’s problems.

  • These jobs couldn’t have gone to Americans?

  • I’m usually not one to use this expression, but I think teaching in Prince George’s county might be one of those jobs Americans won’t do.

  • Yes, there are conditional green cards. Usually they’re marriage related as you have to stay married for 2 years to “prove” you’re really married. After 2 years, the green card is yours, regardless of your marriage status. I don’t know if there’s something similar for jobs. I do know several people who were recruited to come to the US by companies here signed contracts to stay with the company for around 5 years. But that wasn’t a conditional green card, that was them agreeing to stay at least that long as payment for the company picking up all the costs of immigration and relocation.
    It’s possible these teachers are in the middle of getting their green cards and the process is not finalized. If that is the case, and if they’re let go, the green card process is ended and they are up a creek.

  • Anonymous Attorney 05.19.11 at 1:53 pm
    These jobs couldn’t have gone to Americans?

    What’s the matter? You afraid of a little NAFTA competition?

  • I believe they have an H-1B Visa. H-1B is basically a guess worker program for skilled workers. The company must certify that they can’t find American workers with the requisite skills to do the job. The workers stays at the pleasure of the company. If the company decides they no longer need that worker, unless he can find another company to hire him as an H-1B worker, he must go back to his native country.