In the case decided by the DOL, the company claimed that because of the economic recession, it could not pay the three workers at the agreed-upon rate or employ them for the number of hours listed in the LCA. The three workers who brought the lawsuit were reduced to part-time work and they were paid much less than what they were initially offered. The judge also stated that the free housing provided by the company to the three employees could not be counted toward their wages since there was no written authorization from the employees of such attribution.
Employers Pay for Violating H-1B Visas
Employers can be exempt from the H-1B wage obligations in question only if an employee asks to be taken away from their duties for reasons unrelated to the job, if the employee was fired for a bona fide reason, or if a new Labor Condition Application (LCA) becomes effective. In this case, none of those exceptions were present and the DOL ordered the company to pay a total of nearly $230,000 in backpay to the three employees. Employers must not only pay the wage listed in the LCA, but they must pay the higher of the wages (offered versus prevailing wage) for that position. The judge in this case stated that what the company described as a “flagging economy,” did not exempt the employer from paying the wages and assigning the hours originally detailed in the LCA.
This ruling sends a strong message to employers that legal, nonimmigrant workers cannot be taken advantage of. The process of obtaining the H-1B visa for an employee carries with it DOL obligations for an employer that cannot be circumvented. It is understandable that H-1B employees who experience a reduction in wages or hours could feel powerless since their immigration status is directly related to their employment. It is also understandable that employers who feel economically burdened need to look for ways to relieve the burden. There are ways to do that in a law abiding manner.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Can Offer Counsel to Employers and Employees in H-1B Visa Issues, and Assist All Parties to a non-adversarial resolution.
Contact Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. if you or a loved one is working under a nonimmigrant work visa and has experienced a reduction in wages or hours, or if you are an employer who needs advice on how to handle H-1B wage issues. Call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to discuss your case today.