Economic downswings and tough times are not valid excuses for failing to pay H-1B employees properly, according to a administrative ruling that could set an important precedent for California workers. In July, an administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of Labor held that a Florida employer had to adhere to the wage terms established in its Labor Condition Application.
The Florida case involved a gas station operator who didn’t pay a trio of H-1B workers what they had been promised. The Wage and Hour Division of the DOL said that around $230,000 in total pay was unfairly withheld. Their employer argued that although the LCAs specified the three workers would be paid specific wages, the 2008 economic recession kept the company from actually holding up its end of the bargain.
There are only a few situations in which employers aren’t bound to pay H-1B workers their LCA-agreed wages. These include cases when workers decide to quit or reduce their workloads of their own volition, when employers terminate them lawfully or when they enter into new LCAs with different terms. In the Florida case, the judge noted that while the employer eventually submitted a new LCA with a part-time deal justifying the lower wages, it improperly failed to pay the full wages before this LCA went into effect.
Coming to the United States to work seems like a great opportunity for many people. Employers aren’t always willing to treat their workers properly, however. Some may try illegal tactics like holding back worker pay or making threats that could negatively affect their visas. Victims of such treatment can file complaints, but doing so can be complicated without the assistance of an attorney.