Shape of things to come in the US?
By The American Bazaar Staff
WASHINGTON, DC: The critical question of whether salaries of American workers will come down, if President Barack Obama were to go in for executive action after the November elections that might pave the way for millions of new foreign workers to come to the US, got highlighted when a Silicon Valley technology company was fined by the US Department of Labor for paying workers from India $1.21 an hour.
The Fremont, California-based Electronics for Imaging (EFI) has been ordered by the United States Department of Labor to pay more than $40,000 in back wages to at least eight ‘employees’ from India who worked 120-hour weeks to help with the installation of computers at the company’s headquarters, and in return were paid in Indian rupees, at the grand rate of $1.21 per hour. The company has also been fined $3500 for the violation.
California has a minimum wage of $8 per hour.
EFI, which posted third-quarter revenue of nearly $200 million, up 11% from last year, released the following statement on Thursday: “During this process we unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local US standards.”
Last year, another company, Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale, faced similar charges and was fined for underpaying employees from Mexico an hourly wage of $2.66, reported NBC.
Federal officials said both cases are particularly egregious, given the booming labor market and the wealth in Silicon Valley.
“It is certainly outrageous and unacceptable for employers here in Silicon Valley to bring workers and pay less than the minimum wage,” said Alberto Raymond, an assistant district director for the United States Department of Labor.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the eight Indians worked from September 8 till December 21, 2013. Some of the workers worked for up to 122 hours per week or over 17 hours a day. The matter came to light when the Labor Department received an anonymous tip.
In their defense, EFI said lamely it brought the workers from India temporarily to help its local IT team with the relocation of its headquarters from Foster City to Fremont, and didn’t know that that they had to pay the ‘foreign’ workers California wages.
“During this assignment, they continued to be paid their regular pay in India, as well as a special bonus for their efforts on this project,” said Beverly Rubin, vice president of HR Shared Services with EFI, was quoted by the San Jose Mercury News. “During this process we unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local US standards.”