Penalty on US company for paying less to H-1B workers

Penalty on US company for paying less to H-1B workers

A Redmond-based information technology staffing company was asked to pay over $ 300,000 to its 12 H-1B employees for paying them far below their salary and has been imposed a penalty of over $ 45,000, a media report said on Thursday.

The US Department of Labour Wage and Hour Division (WHD) during the investigation found the company, which has offices in Bengaluru and Hyderabad, violated the labour provisions of the H-1B visa program by paying its guest workers far below the required wages, the report said.

As a result, People Tech Group Inc has been asked to pay its 12 employees $ 309,914 and has been slapped with a penalty of $ 45,564, it said.

Investigators found that the company paid entry-level wages to H-1B computer analysts and computer programmers who performed the work of much more experienced employees and should have received higher prevailing rates, the Department of Labour said.

The Group also did not pay the employees for the time when it failed to provide them work, as the law requires, the department said.

"The intent of the H-1B foreign labour certification program is to help American companies find the highly skilled talent they need when they can prove that a shortage of US workers exists," said Wage and Hour Division Acting District Director Carrie Aguilar in Seattle.

The resolution of this case demonstrates our commitment to safeguard American jobs, level the playing field for law-abiding employers, and ensure no one is being paid less than they are legally owed, Aguilar said.

The Wage and Hour Division has listed nearly 30 companies as willful violator employers under the H-1B program.

As per the list maintained since 2013, a majority of willful violators are Indian Americans or companies owned by them. At least 10 companies, which includes eight willful violators have been debarred or disqualified from hiring foreign guest workers on H-1B visas.

What is H1B visa?

In the US, Section 101(a)(15)(H) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows employers to hire foreign workers in speciality occupations. 

"Specialty" refers to requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialised knowledge in a field of human endeavor, including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, computing, architecture, engineering, statistics, physical sciences, journalism, medicine and health: doctor, dentists, nurses, physiotherapists, etc., economics, education, research, law, accounting, business specialties, technical writing, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent as a minimum (with the exception of fashion models, who must be "of distinguished merit and ability").

The foreign worker must possess at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent and state licensure when required to practice in that field. An H1B work-authorisation is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer.

The controversy is over companies taking advantage of the H1B visa programme to hire foreign workers for lower pay, displacing Americans from those jobs.

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