The Center for Investigative Reporting, NBC News and The Guardian published an explosive report this week detailing harsh abuses in the U.S. H-1B visa program. H-1B visas allow U.S. companies to sponsor foreign workers to work temporarily in the U.S. on the companies’ behalf. The report claims that:
Labor brokers providing Indian high-tech workers to American companies have hijacked a professional visa program, creating an underground system of financial bondage by stealing wages and benefits, even suing workers who quit.
The article argues that some staffing firms treat their immigrant tech workers as virtual indentured servants. H-1B workers are underpaid and lack many protections under the law. This leads to some unscrupulous staffing practices in what some say is a grossly underregulated system.
Reforming this aspect of the H-1B visa system is crucial, the authors argue.
The authors criticize “labor brokers” for using restrictive contracts, filing punitive lawsuits and fostering fear in their employees. Although federal law prohibits companies from penalizing H-1B visa holders who quit their job, some unscrupulous staffing companies sue the workers any way for “damages.”
The article is extremely interesting to those in the employment visa field. The criticism is well-placed and we have come across some extremely unscrupulous staffing companies and employers. That being said, the H-1B program has a lot of benefits and the vast majority of employers follow the law and treating their employees well. Our office would have zero interest in representing such low life employers.
In fact, the opposite is true. Our office has filed several lawsuits over the years on behalf of employees who have been exploited by their employer. Litigation over the exploitation of foreign born workers is important for several reasons. Exploitation is flat wrong and those who engage in it should be identified, prosecuted and sued. Foreign born workers need protection under the law and in the courts. Finally, if unscrupulous employers or staffing company are allowed to skirt the law, it hurts all workers – American and foreign born – because it has huge negative consequences for the entire employment eco-system.
We receive requests on a monthly basis from foreign born employees who feel that their employer is taking advantage of them. Some examples are very serious and troubling.
If you believe that you have been exploited by your employer, we urge you to consider taking legal action. Please call us at (314) 961-8200.