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Employer Liable for $156,000 in Back Wages to H-1B Employee Who Never Worked for the Company

Lexology (01/23/12) Eliot Norman

The U.S. Department of Labor administrative law judge held in Matter of Ganze & Co. that failure to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of termination of an H-1B can cost thousands of dollars. Ganze terminated the worker six weeks before he was to start work in Oct. 1, 2008, but never did the three things every H-1B employer must do: mail notice to the worker; mail notice to USCIS so that the I-129 Petition can be cancelled; and pay for his flight home. The company did not comply until long after the worker returned at his own expense to Indonesia. The judge held that as a result he was never legally terminated, and Ganze has to pay him $156,000 in wages for work never performed, legal fees, and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest.

H-1B employees often request that employers not terminate the H-1B to facilitate their search for new jobs. Human resource managers should consider carefully their obligations to the worker and to USCIS.