US Department of Labor recovers $85K for ‘benched’ H-1B worker
PLANO, TX – A customer management consulting company based in Plano “benched” an employee in violation of the federal H-1B visa program by hiring the nonimmigrant worker as a software developer then failing to use the worker and pay the wages promised, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found.
Nonimmigrant workers who receive visas to work in the U.S. for a set period of time have various rights and protections afforded to them under immigration law and Department of Labor regulations. A practice called benching occurs when an employer places an H-1B worker in unpaid, nonproductive status in violation of federal law.
The Wage and Hour Division’s New Orleans District Office determined that VoiceXnet Technologies LLC failed to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that it was terminating the worker’s H-1B visa, assigning them no work and failing to pay them from Jan. 1, 2019 through Feb. 3, 2020. By placing the worker in an unpaid and nonproductive status rather than terminating the H-1B visa, VoiceXnet violated H-1B regulations.
As a result of the investigation, the division recovered $85,405 for the employee.
“Employers who hire nonimmigrant H-1B workers must comply with all requirements which are clearly detailed in the program’s application process,” said Wage and Hour District Director Troy Mouton in New Orleans. “They are obligated to follow all applicable procedures when they receive authority to employ nonimmigrant workers. We encourage employers to contact us if they are unclear about their obligations.”
The department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, an H-1B presentation and confidential calls to local Wage and Hour Division offices.
VoiceXnet uses telecommunications, speech and Web technologies to develop and deploy customized voice and email applications for its clients.
For more information about H-1B visa, FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, and use its search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.