According to a May 23 USA Today story, the Justice Department has taken the side of an employee of Whiz International, a staffing company in New Jersey, who was fired for allegedly voicing concern that the firm was discriminating against U.S. workers by giving preference to foreign workers.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said in a statement, “Employers cannot punish employees who try to do the right thing and take reasonable measures to shed light on a practice they believe may be discriminatory. Employers must ensure that their practices conform to the anti-discrimination provision of the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act), and retaliation will not be tolerated.”

Of course, if the company was hiring and placing temporary professional foreign workers with H-1B visas, the discrimination is not illegal, because there is no requirement in the law that says U.S. workers have priority over foreign workers with those visas. What the ex-Whiz employee alleges is that the company sought to hire temporary foreign workers because “they would be tied to (Whiz International) and it would be difficult for them to obtain other employment.” This lack of bargaining power is what makes H-1B workers attractive to some employers, and has led to abuse of the program in the past.