DOL Finds Company Owes Back Wages to H-1B Worker

On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board (“DOL”) has held that a computer products company owes an Icelandic woman $341,693 plus interest after filing a specialty visa for her and then not paying her the wages it owed her for six years of work. Datalink Computer Products Inc. and its President owe the money to the H-1B visa holder because they did not undergo the proper procedure to terminate her labor contract agreement (“LCA”), according to the DOL decision. Datalink argued that the H-1B visa holder had missed work and was not performing all of her duties as an account executive and therefore they should not be obligated to pay her the $341,693 which represents the $362,607 owed to her from May, 2005 to May, 2011 minus about $21,000 for specific dates she was outside the country and when she was incarcerated for an unspecified reason, according to the decision. The DOL determined that the company agreed to pay her the money and it never followed the process for terminating the deal, and reasons cited by the company for the H-1B visa holder’s termination do not count in the company’s favor. The DOL emphasized that if the company had wanted to end the H-1B relationship with its employee it should have followed the proper procedure for terminating the LCA. The decision stated that, “Respondents admittedly never effected a bona fide termination, so the requirements to pay wages continued.” This case illustrates the importance for employers of complying with all procedural requirements of a specific employer sponsored visas including terminating those employees using the procedures set forth in immigration law. Doing so will eliminate any further liability on the part of the employer to the employee.
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