The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that it has debarred Asian Journal Publications from using the H-1B visa program to hire temporary workers.
An investigation conducted by the department's Wage and Hour Division, determined
that the employer did not properly pay the workers and misrepresented facts
on the Labor Condition Application filed with the department's Employment Training
Administration requesting approval to hire the workers. The debarment will
remain in effect until July 30, 2012.
"Misrepresenting the facts of the employment situation harms the workers
who are hired for their professional expertise, and hurts domestic job seekers
who may have otherwise been eligible for the positions," said Secretary
of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "We cannot allow employers to take advantage
of temporary workers who might be reluctant to come forward in such situations,
nor will we allow unscrupulous employers to gain an unfair advantage over competitors
who play by the rules."
The LCA submitted by Asian Journal stated that workers were sought for positions
as accountants, reporters, news writers, journalists, business analysts, public
relations specialists and financial analysts. However, the investigation revealed
that most were working in sales as account executives. In addition to misrepresenting
the facts on the application, the employer failed to properly pay the required
wage rate and to maintain documentation required under the H-1B visa program.
The department also contends the employer required the workers to pay visa
processing fees. Asian Journal has agreed to pay the 22 workers hired using
the H-1B program, a total of $473,218 in back wages as a result of the investigation,
as well as a $40,000 civil money penalty.
The department also found that 10 employees not hired through the H-1B program
were due $43,276 in back wages resulting from violations of the federal Fair
Labor Standards Act. The employees, who worked as delivery drivers and office
staff, were not receiving overtime pay when working more than 40 hours in a
week. Asian Journal has operations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas,
New York and the Philippines.