Discrimination Lawsuits

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2002-06-28 Print this article Print

Discrimination Lawsuits The same anger is seeping toward courts in the form of threatened lawsuits against employers that have allegedly discriminated against native workers in favor of lower-paid H-1Bs. If some laid-off tech workers get their way, Sun Microsystems Inc. will soon be the subject of a class action suit alleging discriminatory patterns in November 2001 layoffs of about 9 percent of Suns work force—about 3,900 jobs.

Guy Santiglia is one of a handful of ex-Sun employees who have provided the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor with information about Sun regarding what he believes are violations of the H-1B visa-related laws and alleged discrimination against U.S. citizens. Some ex-Sun employees who prefer to remain anonymous are also running a Web site that asks laid-off Sun workers to file charges against the company (www.sunclassaction.com). Laid off from a one-year position as assistant IT administrator in November, Santiglia said that the DOJ is investigating Sun for possible instances of discrimination in the November layoffs. A spokeswoman and an attorney for the DOL and a spokeswoman for the DOJ said they could not comment on ongoing investigations.

Santiglias claims are fueled by the perception that he lost his job while, he said, some H-1B visa holders—brought into this country ostensibly because there were no domestic workers to perform their jobs—retained theirs. But, according to Santiglia, the DOL told him that his job isnt protected in such a situation unless Sun has a work force of more than 15 percent H-1B visa holders.

Does Sun employ more than 15 percent H-1B visa holders? To find out, Santiglia walked into Suns Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters and demanded to see the companys records of the LCAs, or labor condition applications, companies must file when requesting H-1B visas. According to Santiglia, Sun requested approval for thousands of H-1B workers last year, well in excess of the number of workers the company laid off this year. The figure he came up with doesnt represent 15 percent of Suns work force, but Santiglia said the company is still being investigated on grounds of discrimination.

Sun spokeswoman Penny Bruce declined to disclose how many H-1B petitions Sun filed between October last year and March this year but said that it is a "fraction—close to 20 percent—of the numbers filed in the prior year." Bruce also denied that Santiglia was replaced with an H-1B worker.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel