Top US firm accused of abusing H-1B visa

A Fortune 500 energy company in the US has been accused of replacing American employees with low-wage H-1B workers, including Indians.

In a letter to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that ‘Eversource Energy’ abused foreign worker visa programmes.

In another letter to the CEO of Eversource Energy, which is headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut, Blumenthal called for a full accounting of how and why the company decided to fire 200 American employees, and whether those employees were forced to train future foreign replacements and sign non-disparagement agreements.

“Eversource seems to be just the latest example of American companies abusing nonimmigrant worker visa programs and harming American workers by outsourcing jobs,” Blumenthal said in the letter to Lynch.

In his letter dated February 3, which was released to the press yesterday, the Senator said the use of foreign outsourcing firms has been the subject of major concern among a bipartisan group of lawmakers for some time, as has the disproportionate displacement of American IT workers by H-1B and other nonimmigrant worker visa holders generally.

“Such apparent abuses are the reason I have helped lead the fight to reform the H-1B and L-1B programs by co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation that would prohibit companies from replacing American workers with nonimmigrant visa holders,” Blumenthal said.

According to Computer World, the IT firms — Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services — that Eversource uses for outsourcing are major beneficiaries of the H-1B visa.

In 2014, Eversource had fired 200 American information technology workers in Connecticut and Massachusetts in order to replace them with similarly skilled, lower-paid nonimmigrant worker visa holders.

“I strongly encourage you to investigate this matter,” the Senator said in his letter to Lynch.

Blumenthal wrote the letters after a recent news report in this regard.According to this report, Eversource contracted with two offshore outsourcing firms to bring in foreign workers through a nonimmigrant worker visa program to replace their American IT staff.

Then, the company forced the American workers – under threat of losing severance pay – to train their replacements and to refrain from making any “statements to anyone, spoken or written, that would tend to disparage or discredit [Eversource] or any of [its] officers”.

“The attempt to coerce the laid-off employees into remaining silent about their treatment is deeply troubling,” the Senator said.

In another letter to Thomas J May, CEO of Eversource Energy, Blumenthal expressed his outrage at reports of the company lay offing of hundreds of contracted American IT workers at Northeast Utilities (now Eversource Energy), accomplished through apparent abuses of multiple nonimmigrant worker visa programmes, including the H-1B programme.