V. B-1 ENFORCEMENT

Because there are no worker protection regulations pertaining to B-1 visitors, there is no specific administrative enforcement scheme.   There is no formal complaint procedure and no anti-retaliation protection.  There is no regulatory mechanism to hold B-1 employers liable for lost wages and benefits. Because there is no specific role for the U.S. Department of Labor in the application process, its enforcement authority with regard to B-1 workers is nonexistent unless another federal law applies.  State agencies customarily will have the authority to enforce any state laws that may be implicated. B-1 workers may attempt to enforce their rights in court if there is an employment contract or applicable federal or state statute allowing a private lawsuit. 
 
 
A. U.S. Department of Homeland Security
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) enforcement role is not directed towards B-1 worker cases in particular.  However, DHS does focus some attention on trafficking, which is an issue for many domestic workers, including those working with a B-1 visa.  For example, DHS runs a project known as the Blue Campaign.  Designed to help combat human trafficking, the awareness campaign includes multi-lingual public service announcements, billboards, newspaper advertisements, victim assistance materials, and indicator cards for law enforcement. DHS also expanded online resources, including social media, and distributed a virtual toolkit to employers in the lodging, transportation, entertainment, agricultural, manufacturing and construction industries.  
 
 
B. Private Litigation
B-1 workers may file a lawsuit to enforce their rights and have their day in court in just like any other U.S. worker, as long as there is a valid claim under U.S. law and the employer is subject to U.S. courts. 
 
1. Access to Counsel
B-1 workers have similar access to counsel issues as other groups of nonimmigrant workers in that lawyers may not be as willing to take their cases due to cultural differences, language barriers, and the often-short duration of work in the United States.  Because B-1 domestic workers are typically low-wage earners, the amount of money owed may be small relative to the cost and complication of transnational litigation.  Furthermore, because usually there is only one domestic worker per household, there is no possibility of collective representation; class action lawsuits are generally more appealing to take on because they yield higher damages awards.  Foreign workers who have a B-1 in lieu of H-1B or H-3 visa may not be as vulnerable as other nonimmigrants that work in isolation or in rural areas.  
 
a) Legal Services lawyers
Federally funded lawyers may represent individuals with an income below a certain financial level (usually 125% of the federal poverty guideline) and only certain classes of immigrants.134   In most cases individuals with B-1 visas will not be eligible for legal services because of these immigration and financial restrictions.  However, there may be an exception if the worker is a victim of domestic violence, human trafficking or another crime.135

© 2012 | Global Workers Justice Alliance | 789 Washington Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11238 | info@globalworkers.org | (646)351-1160