U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Judge Ordering Minnesota Tech Company to Pay Engineer $43,366 in Back Wages For H-1B Visa Program Violations
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Administrative Law Judge Theresa Timlin has issued an order requiring TLC Precision Wafer Technologies Inc. – based in Minneapolis, Minnesota – to pay a former employee $43,366 in back wages for violating the labor provisions of the H-1B visa program. Additionally, the company has been ordered to pay pre-judgment and post-judgement interest.
The H-1B visa program permits American employers to employ nonimmigrants to work temporarily in specialized occupations in the U.S when they cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce.
WHD investigators found that the employer failed to pay a microfabrication engineer the required wages as stated in the H-1B visa application it filed, and failed to maintain required records. Judge Timlin denied credit for the firm's cash payments of $14,150 to the worker because it failed to report the payments on its payroll records and report the payments to the Internal Revenue Service, as required by the regulations for such credit.
"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 U.S. workers exists," said Wage and Hour District Director David King in Minneapolis. "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."
The Department's investigation found that TLC Precision Wafer Technologies Inc. filed an H-1B petition to hire the engineer at a salary of $43,000 annually. The employee left TLC after he was not paid according to the labor provisions required under the H-1B visa program, and after the employer reduced his hours and pay.
The law establishes certain standards in order to protect similarly employed U.S. workers from being adversely affected by the employment of the nonimmigrant workers, as well as to protect the H-1B nonimmigrant workers. Employers must attest to the Department that they will pay wages to the H-1B nonimmigrant workers at least equal to the actual wage paid by the employer to other workers with similar experience and qualifications for the job in question, or the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment – whichever is greater.
For more information about wage laws enforced by WHD, contact the Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by WHD.