Immigration Blog

Employer Liable for Back Wages & Legal Fee

By Bill at August 05, 2011 23:12
Filed Under: Immigration News

California accounting firm to pay $156,424 in lost wages and $1,500 in legal fees

Immigration law and regulation require that the employer(visa sponsor) notify USCIS(U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) when it terminates its employment relationship with foreign worker(H1B visa holder).  Many employers do not follow this requirement for various reasons. Sometimes they just want to give the foreign worker extra time to  find another job.

However, a recent ruling by an administrative law appellate judge  William Dorsey demonstrates that it will be very costly if the employers fail to follow the procedures.

Ganze & Company filed a labor condition application (LCA) to hire Kevin Limanseto as an H-1B employee but subsequently decided not to employ him. However, Ganze never informed the government of that change, and Mr. Limanseto complained to the Department of Labor that he had never been paid.

The ruling penalized Ganze & Company(an accounting firm California) for failing to follow prescribed procedures in terminating a foreign H-1B worker who had obtained a visa pursuant to the employer’s petition.

The Judge ruled that the employer properly notified the worker of termination, but failed to follow two additional prescribed steps: giving prior notice to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (the “USCIS”) and paying for the worker’s transportation home.

Describing these steps as the “quid pro quo” for being relieved of the duty to pay wages, Judge Dorsey ruled that the employer was responsible for payment of $156,424 in lost wages and $1,500 in legal fees as result of the failure to follow procedure.

This ruling demonstrates the importance of having good counsel prior to taking any employment related action, especially with respect to immigrant workers, who are subject to additional federally prescribed rules.

The labor condition application filed by Ganze & company could be found here:

The PDF version of the ruling could be found here:

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