By: Bruce E Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and an unsuccessful appeal to the Administrative Review Board (ARB), ME Global Inc., a steel foundry based in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, has paid a former employee $190,357 in back wages and interest for violating the labor provisions of the H-1B visa program.

The ARB and an administrative law judge upheld WHD’s findings that ME Global Inc., a subsidiary of ME Elecmetal Inc., failed to cover the employee transportation home and failed to withdraw his Labor Condition Application (LCA) with USCIS when it terminated the employee. Failure to conduct the termination according to the visa program’s requirements resulted in the LCA remaining in effect, entitling the employee to ongoing wages. Investigators found ME Global owed back wages from the date of termination to the date the employee left the U.S.

ME Global Inc. also failed to maintain documentation required by the LCA such as documentation of the prevailing wage, scope of work, and method used for determining wages rates and failed to post information about the LCA in employment locations.

The law establishes certain standards in order to protect similarly employed U.S. workers from being affected adversely 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.

If you want to know more information on issues involving employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.