Government Seeking $1.4 Million Back Wages in H-1B Visa Case

 
 
By Don E. Sears  |  Posted 2010-03-01
 
 
 

The U.S. Department of Labor is not happy with one New Jersey-based software company using H-1B visas.

Peri Software Solutions, which has offices in Los Angeles and San Jose, Calif., and offshore in Chennai, India, is accused of violating prevailing wage law for a large contingent of H-1B visa employees. According to a Department of Labor statement, Peri Software and its president and owner, Sarib Perisamya, have been cited for not paying prevailing wages of H-1B visa holders working in software and technology analyst positions.

The U.S. government is going after $1,456,422 in back wages owed to 163 workers.

"The actions of Peri Software Solutions demonstrate the kind of abuses that our laws are designed to prevent," said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in a DoL statement. "Every worker deserves to be paid for his or her work, and the Labor Department is committed to holding those companies that violate our nation's labor laws accountable."

The Department of Labor is also suing Peri Software for $439,000 due to the "willful nature" of the offenses, including "that the company forced employees to sign employment contracts and then sued them when those contracts were broken," said the DoL statement. Peri Software will likely face being debarred from utilizing the H-1B visa program from the Department of Homeland Security. According to Computerworld's Patrick Thibodeau, Peri Software is seeking to stop the two-year debarment from the H-1B program:

"Peri officials are not commenting on the action, but Labor Department spokeswoman Leni Fortson said the company is seeking an administrative hearing to challenge the finding. 'Everything is contingent upon the outcome of the administrative hearing,' she said." 

The H-1B visa program has come under fire in the past year from prominent U.S. senators for undermining qualified American workers. More recently, the Economic Policy Institute has refuted the claims of company executives like former HP CEO Carly Fiorina and Microsoft's Bill Gates, who "cry wolf" about needing the best and brightest workers from abroad and support H-1B workers, but that the real use of H-1B workers is for temporary work only.

"[Some companies are] using the H-1B and L-1 visa programs for purely temporary purposes, and their share of the H-1B and L-1 visa numbers is large and increasing," writes report-author professor Ron Hira in his analysis for the Economic Policy Institute. "This paper [shows] that growing shares of employers never plan to sponsor H-1B and L-1 visas for permanent residence."

The H-1B visa program, as stated by the Department of Labor, is intended to be a temporary program. From the DoL statement on the Peri Software case:

"The H-1B visa program permits employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in professional occupations such as computer programmers, engineers, physicians and teachers. H-1B workers must be paid the same wage rates paid to U.S. workers who perform the same types of work or the prevailing wage rate in the areas of intended employment, whichever is higher."

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