02/05/2013 // Keller Grover LLP (Press Release) // Keller Grover // (press release)
An Indianapolis staffing company is facing allegations of abusing legal foreign workers and violating federal labor laws by failing to pay them prevailing wages, reveals San Francisco employment lawyer Eric Grover.
Access Therapies provides health care staffing to hospitals, schools and other facilities by using H-1B visa sponsorships to hire people from India, the Philippines, and other foreign countries when companies cannot find Americans to fill the positions, as theindychannel.com first reported.
Former Access Therapies worker Rituraj Signh Panwar filed a federal lawsuit that names not only his employer, but also his manager Ramon Villegas, and affiliates RN Staff Inc. and Rehability Care, as defendants. Panwar is also seeking class action status, as it is estimated that about 100 workers have been impacted.
The lawsuit alleges that Access Therapies failed to pay its employees prevailing wages as required by law. In addition, the staffing agency allegedly engaged in a “fraudulent enterprise” and violated federal anti-trafficking, forced labor laws, and Indiana’s state wage laws.
Furthermore, Access Therapies is being accused of frequently not having work for its employees despite the visas.
“We don’t want people to come over here to the country and sit and be idle and not be working jobs and be controlled by an employer located in the United States and for that employer to profit on that scenario,” said one of Panwar’s attorneys to theindychannel.com. “Mr. Panwar alleges specifically in his complaint he was not paid during his wait time when he was available to work and willing to work in the U.S.”
A further look into Access Therapies also uncovered a 2010 letter from the U.S. Department of Labor to Access Therapies regarding the company’s failure to pay wages as required and cooperate with their investigation. “Your firm owes back wages in the amount of $1,012,306.08 to fifty-three H-1B nonimmigrants,” read the letter. “Your firm is liable for any ongoing violations.”
A hearing for the federal lawsuit is scheduled for Feb 14 in Indianapolis federal court.
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