DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A US Dept. of Labor investigation found that an Irving IT company illegally withheld payments from an H-1B visa worker and recovered over $64,000 in wages.

According to a US Dept. of Labor spokesperson, the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Cigniti Technologies Inc. hired a system analyst under the H-1B visa program. The company then engaged in an illegal practice called “benching.”

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Benching occurs when an employer fails to use and pay a worker for non-productive time. Under the H-1B program, employers are legally obliged to pay the visa employees a pro-rated amount based on what similarly qualified employees in the position make either inside or outside the company per hour.

A subsidiary of Cigniti Technologies Limited in India, Cigniti Technologies Inc. provides staffing services and information technology support, including software development, programming analysis and engineering services. The company employs US and H-1B workers throughout the US.

The Dept. of Labor found that Cigniti illegally benched the employee for 15 months and owed him $64,244 in unpaid wages, which was recovered for him.

“Employers who hire workers under the H-1B visa program must comply with all legal requirements, which are clearly detailed in the program’s application process,” said Wage and Hour District Director Troy Mouton in New Orleans. “We encourage employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division for information about their obligations to avoid violations.”

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The department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, an H-1B presentation and confidential calls to local Wage and Hour Division offices.

The Wage and Hour Division also encourages workers to learn and understand their rights guaranteed by law, including those of H1-B visa holders. Employees can contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).

Calls to the hotline can be placed confidentially regardless of immigration states, and the department can speak with callers in over 200 languages.

The Wage and Hour Division also offers online resources and a search tool to help employees who think they might be owed back wages.

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CBSDFW.com Staff