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Indiana firm fined for H-1B violations

After a local ABC-TV afiliate initiated an investigation, an administrative law judge entered penalties against an Indianapolis staffing firm. The company uses H-1B visa sponsorships to hire workers from foreign countries including the Philippines and India. It then provides staff to health care schools, hospitals and other facilities.

The U.S. Department of Labor reportedly determined that the company did not provide accurate information when petitioning for H-1B visas and hiring nonimmigrant workers. The investigation revealed that the company owed nearly $40,000 in back wages to six physical therapists who were paid less than owed. In addition, the Department of Labor ordered the firm to pay more than $80,000 in penalties. The company appealed the decision, and an administrative law judge issued the order. The judge also prohibited the agency from participating in the H-1B program for one year. Court documents alleged that the company also engaged in witness tampering by calling its employees and instructing them not to respond to a court order asking them to produce emails.

The H-1B visa program allows employers to hire foreign workers to work in the United States in specialty occupations. A spokesperson for the Department of Labor stated that this case illustrates that the government will not hesitate to take action against employers that violate the law. An attorney for the staffing firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When an employer violates the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay employees agreed wages or failing to pay overtime, an employment attorney may be able to help. It may be possible to negotiate a settlement with the employer or to file suit in order to ensure that employees get the compensation they deserve.

Source: The Indy Channel, "$121K penalties issued against Indy staffing co.", Kara Kenney, June 09, 2014

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