July 13, 2011, 4:15 PM — Eighteen IT workers who were fired from Molina Healthcare, Inc. are asking a California court to force their former employer to compensate them for allegedly hiring foreign workers under H-1B visas while laying off those from the U.S.
The lawsuit, filed by 18 former security analysts and programmers laid off last year, is part of the latest bubble of conflict over H-1B visas, which are designed to let technical specialists from other countries find work in the U.S.
The 18 were among 40 laid off in January, 2010, a decision they now claim was to leave room to hire more H-1B workers.
There's no word from Molina over what it thinks of the lawsuit (bet on someone using the word "unfounded" and claim to be defending the healthcare of Los Angelenos by cutting costs in IT).
There's also no response yet from Cognizant Technology Solutions, the IT services company that provided the H-1B workers to Molina, under terms of a contractor-employment deal opponents of the H-1B program call "bodyshopping."
Under that practice, service companies hire legions of foreign workers under H-1B visas, bring them to the U.S., and contract them out to employers here.
Many of those end-user companies are accused, as was Molina, of firing U.S. based IT workers with high salaries and hiring contractors under H-1B visas to replace them.
The practice is illegal, and the accusers often show signs of anti-immigrant bias or outright racism, at least part of which is reflected in the lawsuit, which claims Molina's IT department discouraged celebration of American holidays but favored Indian holidays, that American workers were snubbed by the large number of Indian-born managers and that meetings were often held in Hindi rather than English.
None of those claims is substantiated, and most of them sound wildly exaggerated, if not made up entirely.
James Otto, the attorney for the 18 workers laid off at Molina, did claim in an interview with Computerworld that the IT department at Molina was known as "little India."
Molina applied for 168 H-1B visa hires between 2000 and 2010, according to data from the Dept. of Labor.
It applied for 15 H-1Bs in 2010, but withdrew two.
On the list of companies hiring the most H-1B visa workers, Molina is No. 2,568.
Distribution of H-1B visas/Computerworld