Redmond company fined more than $350,000 for visa violations

People Tech Group Inc. was ordered to pay H-1B visa employees nearly $310,000 in wages and an additional $45,000 in fines.

A Redmond-based company was fined more than $350,000 after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found they had stiffed employees wages.

People Tech Group Inc. was ordered to pay H-1B visa employees nearly $310,000 in wages and an additional $45,000 in fines after the company paid entry-level wages to 12 computer analysts and programmers who performed work usually done that much more experienced employees would have received higher prevailing wages for. The investigation examined a period from June 2014 to June 2016.

The investigation found that of the $310,000, some $290,000 of it came from paying lower wages, while the company failed to pay one employee $20,000 while the employee did not have work. This is a practice known as “benching” and involves promising employees a certain amount of work before they enter the country and then not paying them for it under contract.

Under H-1B laws, employers must pay employees for a fixed amount of hours, even if the companies they contract with, like Microsoft Corp., do not have work for them. The government issues 65,000 H-1B visas for foreign workers with a bachelor’s degree and an additional 20,000 for those with a master’s degree or higher. Businesses can bring in these employees for a minimum of three years with possible extensions.

People Tech Group had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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