Group Claims Discrimination, Targets Employers Recruiting H-1B Workers

As special interests pressure the U.S. Senate to lift the cap on H-1B visas, a computer programmer advocacy group is filing complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice against more than 300 IT services employers whose ‘Help Wanted’ ads it believes discriminate against American citizens, denying workers here equal access to U.S. jobs.

The Summit, New Jersey-based Programmers Guild is filing employment discrimination claims with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related discrimination. The complaints allege that the companies have discriminated against U.S. citizens and permanent residents in job postings that express preference towards hiring foreign workers on H-1B, L-1, or student visas.

John Miano, who founded the Programmers Guild in 1998, is filing the cases because he says there has been a major lack of oversight by the federal government regarding some employers’ openly favoring foreign workers over American workers.

“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,” Miano says.

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

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 U.S. Department of Justice for investigation regarding discrimination against U.S. citizens. The charges allege that these employers placed ads inviting only non-immigrants to apply. Please stop all such advertising,” the online warning stated.

Miano cites examples from actual postings on Dice.com and Monster.com:

“We offer H1B services for L1 Visa Holders and new H1B for the right candidates in?India.”

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“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, Miano says, 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,” Miano says. Many “high-tech companies” obtaining H-1B visas, he adds, “operate out of apartments and Mailboxes Etc.”?

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