A U.S. provider of outsourcing and IT services has agreed to pay civil penalties of $45,000 to settle allegations that it discriminated against U.S. residents when attempting to hire foreign workers holding H-1B visas, the U.S. Department of Justice announced late Thursday.
The settlement with iGate Mastech also requires the company to train its recruiters and post a nondiscrimination statement on its Web site, the DOJ said. In addition to headquarters in Pittsburgh, the company has offices in three other U.S. cities, as well as Canada, Bulgaria and four cities in India.
Between May 9, 2006, and June 4, 2006, iGate placed 30 job announcements for computer programmers that "expressly favored" H-1B visa holders to the exclusion of legal U.S. workers, the DOJ said in a news release. The company engaged in citizenship status discrimination, which is prohibited by U.S. law, the DOJ said.
"We are committed to protecting the right of all authorized workers in the United States against citizenship status discrimination," Grace Chung Becker, acting assistant attorney general for the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.
An iGate spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comments on the settlement.
Many large tech companies, including Microsoft and Symantec, have pushed for the U.S. Congress to increase the number of H-1B visas available each year. The current annual cap is 65,000, plus an additional 20,000 for graduate students studying in the U.S. In recent years, the annual H-1B cap has been filled within days after the government opened the application period.
But critics of the H-1B program have suggested the program is often abused. U.S. companies often hire foreign workers when U.S. workers are available, critics have alleged. Outsourcing companies are major users of the H-1B program, critics have also pointed out.
The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices in the DOJ's Civil Rights Division will monitor iGate to ensure compliance with the settlement agreement, the DOJ said.