Public Schools to Pay $4.2M in Back Wages for H-1B Visa Program Violations
August 11, 2011
In a recent wage and hour settlement that our Garden Grove labor and employment attorneys have been watching, the U.S. Department of Labor has secured an agreement with the public schools system in Prince George's County (PGCPS), Maryland to pay back wages in the amount of $4,222,146 to 1,044 foreign workers under the H-1B foreign visa program, after the school system forced workers to pay for fees that PGCPS was obliged to cover.
In a previous Santa Ana, California employment lawyers blog, our attorneys discussed that the H-1B visa worker program allows U.S. employers to recruit and hire foreign professionals, or nonimmigrant workers in specialized occupations to be employed on a temporary basis within the United States. The H1-B visa program has standards that keep U.S. employees in similar jobs or who have similar job qualifications protected from being negatively affected by the employment of foreign workers. When workers are hired under the foreign worker program, they must be compensated at the same rate and receive the same benefits as the American employees performing the same jobs, or to the prevailing pay rates in the employment location.
The H-1B foreign worker visa program reportedly requires employers to pay specific fees to engage in the visa program. The DOL investigation found that instead of covering the visa costs and fees that were associated with finding and recruiting H-1B workers and filing their foreign visa petitions, PGCPS mandated that the foreign workers pay for them individually. The foreign workers' compensation was therefore reduced to below the legal amount to which they were legally entitled. The DOL investigated the PGCPS foreign visa application process from May of 2005 until January of 2011.
According to the DOL, PGCPS will pay $4,222,146 in back wages and $100,000 in civil monetary penalties due to the willful intent of some of the wage violations, and for two years will be debarred from engaging in any employment-based visa programs.
In Cypress, Dana Point, and Fountain Valley, California, contact our labor and employment attorneys for a free consultation about your rights. Contact us online or call toll-free at 1-800-872-5925.
Prince George's County Public Schools agrees to pay $4.2 million in back wages for violations of H-1B temporary foreign worker program, U.S. Department of Labor, July 7, 2011
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