Eight workers from India were paid as little as $1.21 an hour by a tech company in Fremont, Calif., over several months in late 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, as reported by the Associated Press. As a result the company, Electronics for Imaging, which specializes in printing technology, agreed to pay $43,000 in back wages and government penalties. Electronics for Imaging, or EFI, said in a prepared statement that it “unintentionally overlooked” U.S. labor law and has "taken steps to ensure that this type of administrative error does not reoccur."
The workers were transferred from Bangalore, India, to help the company move into a new headquarters building. They logged as many as 122 hours a week (WTF??????) without overtime with some earning as little as $1.21 an hour. California’s minimum wage at the time was $8 an hour.
- LA Times
The incident is a reminder that even amid a labor market that has boomed in recent years in Silicon Valley and other parts of the Bay Area, income inequality and payments of relatively low wages can still be a problem for workers in the region. The workers were paid in Indian rupees.
"It's always amazing that some employers think they can go about with this kind of cheating," said Sylvia Allegretto, a UC Berkeley research economist and co-chair of the university's Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics.
An anonymous tip prompted the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate the case, which resulted in more than $40,000 in back wages paid to the eight employees and a fine of $3,500 for Electronics for Imaging.
"There may be good reasons to bring in foreign employees to work at tech companies, but there's no good reason to pay them so little," said Jon Haveman, chief economist with San Rafael-based Marin Consulting.
The eight employees were paid to help install the company's computer network and systems in connection with the move of the company's headquarters from Foster City to Fremont.
Some employees worked up to 122 hours a week. The unlawful employment began Sept. 8, 2013, and concluded Dec. 21, 2013.
"These kinds of egregious wage and law violations go on every day," Allegretto said.
Investigators from the division's San Jose office learned that the technicians were flown in from the employer's office in Bangalore, India.
"This was discovered through an anonymous tip, and we need that kind of information to discover these sorts of illegal situations," Blanco said.
- Mercury News