Two major U.S. corporations recently made the news regarding their immigration policies: Dunkin' Doughnuts showed remarkable vigor in doing the right thing about illegal aliens, while Grand America Hotels & Resorts was sued for exploiting aliens in the J-1 (exchange visitor) nonimmigrant program.
So, drink DD's coffee and savor its doughnuts, but avoid spending the night at a Grand America facility!
Dunkin' Doughnuts is largely a franchise operation. Entities other than DD own the little shops that make the coffee and hire the workers. Sometimes franchise operations avoid the responsibility for labor and immigration violations by saying "don't blame the corporation, blame the local owner," in much the same way big agricultural employers sometimes say, "don't sue us, sue the crew leader."
Dunkin' Doughnuts does not seem to think that way.
According to a Law360 article (partially behind a paywall), the corporation filed a suit against multiple former franchisees "with locations in Pennsylvania and Delaware" stating that they were "sullying the coffee chain's reputation ... [when they] engaged in illegal hiring practices in breach of their contracts."
The franchisees had failed to use the E-Verify program as their contracts required, according to DD's lawyers. E-Verify is a government-provided system that informs employers whether or not a worker is in legal status. There is no charge for its usage.
Grand America, which five years earlier had been forced to pay a $2 million fine for using undocumented workers, according to another Law 360 report has been sued, in what the plaintiffs hope becomes a class action, by four Filipino workers who were recruited to work for GA in Utah in one of the State Department's cultural exchange programs.
The students alleged that they paid thousands of dollars in fees with the understanding that they would get training in the hospitality business, but they had, instead, been forced to work as much as 16 hours a shift in low-level janitorial and food-service jobs, and had been paid below the minimum wage.
The hotel's side of the story has not yet emerged.
There have been countless stories like this regarding exploiting alien workers in the State Department's exchange programs, which operate without any Stateside governmental supervision. The Summer Work Travel program's multitudinous abuses were documented a couple of years ago by my colleague, Jerry Kammer.
Why Grand America, with a huge $2 million fine for exploiting foreign workers on the public record, was allowed to participate in yet another foreign worker program is hard to understand, but it is a further reason why the State Department should shut down, or change drastically, these programs.
While exploitation of foreign workers — and thus the simultaneous denial of these jobs to citizen and green card workers — is, unfortunately, old hat, there was a new wrinkle in the Grand America story. Law 360 reported:
According to one of the interns — Jann Descanzo, who has a degree in hospitality and tourism — the hotel plied him and other interns with energy drinks so they could stay awake during 16-hour shifts, even though the program mandated that participants work no more than 32 hours a week.
There is, apparently, no limit beyond which these exploiters will not go.