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30k$ penalty imposed on US firm for paying low wages to H-1B employees

30k$ penalty imposed on US firm for paying low wages to H-1B employees
September 14
16:17 2018

WASHINGTON: A US-based IT staffing company has been asked to pay over USD 300,000 to its 12 H-1B employees for paying them far below their salary and imposed a penalty of over USD 45,000 for violating the labor provisions, amidst the Trump administration’s crackdown against the abuse of the visa category popular among Indian professionals.

The US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) during an investigation found the Redmond-based company, which has offices in Bangalore and Hyderabad, violated the labor provisions of the H-1B visa program by paying its guest workers far below the required wages, a media release said Thursday.

As a result, People Tech Group Inc has been asked to pay its 12 employees USD 309,914 and has been slapped with a penalty of USD 45,564, it said. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. 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 Labor said.

The People Tech Group also failed to pay workers for the time when it did not provide them work, as the law requires, the department said. “The intent of the H-1B foreign labor 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 include eight willful violators, have been debarred or disqualified from hiring foreign guest workers on H-1B visas.

The Trump administration is pushing for a reform of the H-1B system, saying some IT companies were abusing the US work visas to deny jobs to American workers. PTI

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