Biltmore Estate illegally hired non-U.S. applicant instead of qualified U.S. citizen

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Biltmore Estate in Asheville has been fined for hiring a non-U.S. applicant over a qualified U.S. citizen.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found that Biltmore Workforce Management Inc. violated labor provisions of the H-2B visa program.

The employer paid $6,938 in back wages to a U.S. applicant as well as a civil penalty of $24,076 assessed by WHD.

According to a news release, the Wage and Hour Division determined that even though one U.S. applicant applied for a cook position with the Biltmore Estate, the company considered him overqualified and did not hire him, hiring instead a guest worker through the H-2B visa program.

The H-2B program's labor provisions mandate that participating employers must hire qualified U.S. workers over non-immigrant applicants.

WHD also found the employer failed to disclose to U.S. applicants that a reduced weekly housing rate was available to employees that participated in a housing committee.

Biltmore Co. offered the reduced rate only to non-immigrant employees.

Biltmore issued the following statement:

Due to a miscommunication with an applicant who applied for a position at Biltmore, we inadvertently made a hiring decision that violated one of the provisions of the H-2B program. A local candidate applied for an open position, however, we understood this candidate was not interested in pursuing this entry-level job further. Having found no other local candidates during the recruitment process, the position was offered to an international employee who worked with us under the H-2B visa program.

We regret that we did not fully understand the local applicant's desire for this entry-level position and have paid the fees as requested by the Department of Labor. In addition, we have made changes to our hiring process, requiring written documentation of offers to all potential job candidates.

One of the provisions of the H-2B program is that the same benefits be provided to both seasonal U.S. employees and seasonal H-2B employees. We provide the same benefits to both, with transportation and housing opportunities available to both local and H-2B seasonal employees. Through this process, however, we learned that an employee committee associated with our housing program did not meet the parameters of the H-2B program. We have eliminated that committee as a result.
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