Wednesday, November 03, 2010
[IWS] GAO: H-2B VISA PROGRAM: CLOSED CIVIL CRIMINAL CASES ILLUSTRATE INSTANCES OF H-2B WORKERS BEING TARGETS OF FRAUD AND ABUSE [online 1 November 2010]
IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau
Government Accountability Office (GAO)
H-2B Visa Program: Closed Civil Criminal Cases Illustrate Instances of H-2B Workers Being Targets of Fraud and Abuse
GAO-10-1053, September 30, 2010 [online 1 November 2010]
[full-text, 18 pages]
What GAO Found
GAO reviewed 10 closed cases over the last 5 years that involved H-2B employers and recruiters that violated various labor laws or settled allegations of violations outside of court. These 10 cases involved diverse employers in different industries with employees in 29 states with violations in areas such as employers failing to pay promised wages, overtime, or both; employers charging H-2B workers exorbitant fees; and employers and recruiters submitting fraudulent documentation to government officials. For example, in one case H-2B workers became indebted to their employer through a series of arbitrary charges. The employer then forced workers to take second jobs at local fast food restaurants to pay these debts. The table below provides a summary of cases where H-2B workers rights were violated.
GAO personnel found that most recruiters they called or visited posing as prospective H-2B employers and workers did not encourage our undercover agents to violate program rules. Of the 18 recruiters in multiple states we contacted, 15 appropriately did not offer any advice on violating H-2B program rules. However, during three calls, H-2B recruiters did provide suggestions on how to circumvent program rules, such as providing “good excuses” to help “weed out” prospective U.S. workers or recouping costs through “off-the-book” transactions to avoid restrictions on pay deductions. Additionally, GAO found that H-2B workers contacted during the site visits to their housing locations were generally pleased with their living and working conditions. However, at one location the H-2B workers were afraid to speak with outside individuals for fear of retaliation from their employer.
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