By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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A Department of Labor (DOL) Administrative Law Judge ruled in Matter of: Administrator, Wage, and Hour Division v. ME Global, Inc. that the employer failed to perfect the bona fide termination of its employee; therefore, ME Global owed the employee $183,000.

ME Global hired Petar Peric on a three-year H-1B Visa in 2008. After only two months, ME Global fired Peric for unsafe conduct. Although the company notified Peric of his termination, it failed to provide notification to the USCIS of his termination.

Under immigration laws, when an employer terminates an H-1B Visa holder, it must inform the employee, notify the USCIS, and offer to pay transportation costs for the employee to return to his home country.

In 2010, Peric filed a complaint with DOL alleging he was owed back wages because of ME Global’s failure to notify the USCIS. Essentially, Peric argued that he was “benched” – placed in non-productive status.

ME Global argued the complaint was beyond the 12 month statute of limitations; thus, it should be dismissed. The ALJ rejected that argument and found it was a continuing violation and was timely filed as long as it was filed within one year of when Peric left the United States. Since he filed the complaint in 2010 before leaving the U.S. in June 2011, it was not time-barred.

Thus, the ALJ ruled ME Global owed Peric back wages from November 2008, when he was fired, until June 2011, when he left the United States.

As you see, the employer’s failure to properly notify the USCIS of an employee’s discharge was costly.