Programmers Guild Files 300 Discrimination Complaints Against H-1B Employers

As special interests pressure the Senate to lift the cap on H-1B visas, the Programmers Guild has filed complaints against over 300 companies whose help wanted ads discriminate against Americans, denying U.S. workers even equal access to U.S. jobs.

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Citrus Heights, CA (PRWEB) June 19, 2006

The Programmers Guild has filed employment discrimination complaints against over 300 employers this year. These actions, including case number 197-19-120, are being filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related discrimination. The complaints allege that the companies have discriminated against U.S. workers in job postings that express preference towards hiring foreign workers on H-1B visas.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, U.S. Workers, those legally entitled to work in the United States, are a protected class. It is illegal to discriminate against U.S. workers on the basis of immigration status.

John Miano, who founded the Programmers Guild in 1998, is filing the cases. “Abuse of the H-1B program has become so widespread that companies apparently feel free to engage openly in the practice. And we are only reviewing ads for computer programmers.”

The Law Offices of Rajiv S. Khanna posted a warning to employers on its website to stop running such ads, bolstering the legitimacy of the Guild’s charges:

“We are representing some employers who have recently been served with a notice by the US Department of Justice for investigation regarding discrimination against US Citizens. The charges allege that these employers placed ads inviting only nonimmigrants to apply. Please stop all such advertising.”

John Miano cites examples from actual postings on DICE and MONSTER:

  •     “We offer H1B services for L1 Visa Holders and new H1B for the right candidates in India.”
  •     “H1B -From India-Multiple positions”
  •     “We require candidates for H1B from India.”
  •     “ONLY OPT STUDENTS NEED APPLY”
  •     “We sponsor GC [green card] and we do prefer H1B holders”

In addition to this “Americans need not apply” discrimination, many H-1B job postings are for employment arrangements that amount to the sale of visas and green cards. “We have postings for arrangements where the ‘employee’ finds his own work and the ‘employer’ takes a cut of the earnings.” Many “high-tech companies” obtaining H-1B visas operate out of apartments and Mailboxes Etc.,” according to Miano.

Many of the ads include free training and interview preparation. Dozens of such ads can be seen at http://classifieds.sulekha.com/ . Miano observed, “We are told that we need these H-1B workers because Americans do not have the right training. Yet we see employers offering technical training to H-1B workers that is not being offered to U.S. workers,”

Toni Chester, an American computer programmer in New Jersey with two BS degrees and 17 years of experience has been unable to find work in that state since she was replaced by an H-1B teammate in August 2001. When she responded to a "foreign worker" ad for free training, she was told that the training had been cancelled, but observed that the ads for jobs and training continued to run. In spite of follow-up emails and phone calls, she was denied the same training placement assistance, and jobs that are afforded to H-1B holders.

In February 2006 Chester contacted both of her U.S. Senators and Representative Scott Garrett regarding this discrimination. Senator Lautenberg’s local office responded, directing her to contact Christine Iverson at the Department of Labor. She complied and faxed the details, but so far has heard nothing. Meanwhile Senator Lautenberg is supporting the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (S.2611), which would substantially increase the H-1B quota without any reforms to protect U.S. workers.

Ironically the U.S. government collects a fee from each H-1B visa, ostensibly to retrain displaced Americans. But rarely is such training available to skilled workers such as Chester. Jones County Junior College in Mississippi, for example, is using an H-1B grant to train workers for jobs in food service industries like restaurants and casinos.

So where can Chester turn for assistance?

The Senate Immigration Reform Bill expands the H-1B program but addresses none of the problems, such hiring H-1Bs without first recruiting Americans.

The U.S. Department of Labor is reserving 65,000 U.S. tech jobs exclusively for foreign workers to fill in October 2006, refusing to allow Americans to apply in the mean time. The Department of Labor, Foreign Labor Certification at (202) 693-3010 has not returned our calls in this matter.

The Programmers Guild suggests that, unfortunately, Chester would do better if she became a citizen of another country and then re-entered the U.S. workforce on an H-1B visa.

About us

The Programmers Guild advocates for the interests of U.S. computer programmers and other tech workers. The Guild supports Congressman Pascrell’s H.R. 4378, which would amend H-1B legislation to require employers to first recruit U.S. workers, along with other protections. See http://www.programmersguild.org for more information.

References

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related discrimination

http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/osc/

Notice of suits by The Law Offices of Rajiv S. Khanna:

http://www.immigration.com/newsletter1/doj_investigation.html

H-1B funds used to train workers for food service industry:

http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060609/LIFESTYLE/606090309/1024

Database of LCAs for H-1B on Department of Labor website:

http://www.flcdatacenter.com/CaseH1B.aspx

Senator Lautenberg vote for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (S.2611)

http://lautenberg.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=256328&

Sample of ads for free training for students on visas:

http://classifieds.sulekha.com/atlanta/clad.aspx?cid=676564&nma=WW

http://classifieds.sulekha.com/clad.aspx?cid=544347

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