Case 15: Imported Labor: Safe to Hire?
Employers that hire contract laborers who have come to the United States on work visas need to exercise proper caution. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Missouri recently indicted operators of several labor leasing companies for violations dating back to January 2001. Charges included labor racketeering, forced labor trafficking, and falsifying H-2B work visas. (H-2B visas allow nonimmigrant temporary nonagricultural workers to work for U.S. employers that have peak workload, seasonal, or one-time needs.)
The 45-count indictment alleges that several staffing companies contracted with hotel, casino, and construction businesses nationwide to supply hundreds of laborers, many of them foreign nationals from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the Philippines. In turn, the staffing companies charged the workers fees as high as $3,000 to secure jobs for them.
Kansas City–based Giant Labor Solutions, one of the staffing companies under federal indictment, provided workers throughout the Midwest and beyond but failed to pay employment taxes or overtime. The indictment charges that Giant reportedly forced workers to pay their own transportation costs and to rent substandard, company-owned lodging. If the workers attempted to return to their native country, the staffing companies allegedly threatened them with huge fines.
The indictment involves illegal aliens employed in several industries in 14 U.S. states.
Sources: “Staffing Firm Indicted for Labor Trafficking, Immigration,” Workforce Management, May 28, 2009,http://www.workforce.com/ and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Website press release, “Eight Arrested in RICO for Visa Fraud, Human Trafficking Conspiracy,” May 27, 2009, http://www.ice.gov.
Suppose your organization needs to hire several laborers at entry-level pay. As an employer, how can you avoid the problem of workers with improper documentation or unethical staffing services? Post your responses in this forum and comment on one other student’s response.