Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
IBM The Almighty Buck United States Your Rights Online

Justice Department Slaps IBM Over H-1B Hiring Practices 195

Posted by timothy
from the rules-from-above dept.
Dawn Kawamoto writes "IBM reached a settlement with the Justice Department over allegations it posted discriminatory online job openings, allegedly stating a preference for H-1B and foreign student visa holders for its software and apps developer positions. The job openings were for IT positions that would eventually require the applicant to relocate overseas. IBM agreed to pay $44,400 in civil penalties to the U.S., as well as take certain actions in the way it hires within the U.S. The settlement, announced Friday, comes at a time with tech companies are calling for the U.S. to allow more H-1B workers into the country."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Justice Department Slaps IBM Over H-1B Hiring Practices

Comments Filter:
  • by msmonroe (2511262) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:00AM (#44977481)
    Could the justice department do any less? The fines are a joke.
    • by kpainter (901021) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:05AM (#44977497)
      No shit! They could hire at least 4 dudes for that $44K!!
    • Could the justice department do any less? The fines are a joke.

      I guess something is better than nothing. Still, we need to clamp down on tech businesses and get them to stop exploiting H-1B's. I guess someone up in upper management is not concerned that one day we'll are be serfs even more than we are now.

      • by rnturn (11092)

        ``I guess something is better than nothing.''

        The other something that will likely happen is that IBM will now ask their contractors to take an extra week of furlough. (Furloughing contractors is one of the ways IBM weathers bad news from Wall Street or, in this case, the Feds. In recent years you could expect to be furloughed for a time pretty much every quarter.) I know other places that let whole rooms full of contractors go when the government slapped them with a fine; they're there in the morning but

      • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:03AM (#44978777)

        we need to clamp down on tech businesses and get them to stop exploiting H-1B's

        Here's a simple approach: eliminate the H-1B program. Forget the "well, let's compromise, some need" blah, blah, blah garbage. Just get rid of it. The country did fine, and was a leader in science and technology for decades, without the H-1B visa program. Also note that this does not mean any reduction in immigration (including skills based immigration), just a guest worker program that we don't, and never did, need (except for lowering salaries).

        • by edibobb (113989)
          The average H1B worker is more skilled, on average, than the average immigrant. We'll have a net loss of skilled immigrants if we eliminate the H1B program.
          • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:04PM (#44980133)

            The average H-1B "worker" does not have any skills that are in particularly short supply in the US. That's a myth created by tech companies to up the quota and suppress wages. It's aided and abetted by academia, which wants more customers (called "students" in their business) and their own cheap labor. It's a line parroted by politicians and pundits, but not supported by, uh, you know, actual facts.

            If you want immigrants that are more highly skilled than we have now, then adopt the Australian system, which gives preference to skills that are in particularly high demand, as demonstrated by actual labor statistics rather than the say-so of tech billionaires. For example, a while ago Australia was giving preference to hair stylists. People joked about it, but there was a genuinely high demand for them. Maybe it's all that sun and surf. Regardless, if there is a high demand for hair stylists but not programmers, then hairstylist is a more valuable skill. Your opinion of programmers as highly skilled is irrelevant. Professors of Medieval French Literature are also highly skilled and educated, but there's no shortage of them.

            Lastly, if what you're looking for is skilled immigrants, then why have a guest worker program like the H-1B instead of an immigration program?

          • by mjwalshe (1680392)
            Well if you count the unskilled ones that slip over the border to pick fruit yes in the case of the H1B not quite sure that evidence supports that
      • Seriously. Everyone loves H1-Bs exception tech workers. What do you do when both parties are completely in favor of it? You can't say "Go to the Libertarians" either because they're in favor too (they're against amnesty usually, but want more legal immigration and visas).

        I don't think we've got a chance. I remember reading an article from some University economist or something where he talked about how we're all going to have to get used to a lower standard of living and a more "Fragile" existence. I'd
    • by currently_awake (1248758) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:25AM (#44977553)
      The purpose of the H1B visa is to drive down American wages by forcing them to compete for jobs with the third world. The justice department is doing what they are paid/ordered to do.
      • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:12AM (#44977683) Homepage Journal

        Nonsense. Those visas mandate proper salaries (note that the article says nothing about this point)

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:25AM (#44977711)

          A law that is not enforced is hardly a law at all.

          • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @09:58AM (#44978745)

            A law that is not enforced is hardly a law at all.

            Worse is when laws are only selectively enforced.

            • A law that is not enforced is hardly a law at all. Worse is when laws are only selectively enforced.

              Worse yet, law "enforcement" which results in tiny fines with no meaningful penalty (as they were designed) hold no deterrent effect. Business managers who measure everything by its budgetary effect are free to interpret the chance of such "penalty" as a marginal cost of doing business as usual. In fact, if you build it into the budget and you don't get caught, your bottom line is improved.

              So much for the hypothetical value of H1B visas. In this light they look like what they always have been, business to

              • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

                The world is your oyster if you are IBM and you can buy your "self" a sympathetic lawmaker connected to a compliant judiciary. Welcome to capitalistc competition. Where everything is exactly what it seems to be, if you are a total cynic.

                I'm sure this is not unique to IBM and that Apple, Microsoft, Google and many others are just as culpable.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Sure, they mandate it but it often doesn't happen. Even if it does, the employer takes full advantage of having the effective power to deport the employee at any time for any reason to wring it back out of the indentured servant they hired.

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @09:57AM (#44978737)

          Nonsense. Those visas mandate proper salaries (note that the article says nothing about this point)

          It still drives down wages. If there truly is a limited supply of skilled workers, then supply and demand dictates that wages will increase. As wages increase, more workers will enter the field and wages will stabilize. However, bringing in H1B workers keeps supply and demand from working, thus keeping wages down and discourages new workers from entering the field. Bring in enough H1B workers and now there are a surplus of workers and wages fall, maybe not ot third world levels, but below what the market would normally dictate.

          So ultimately, the OP was correct, H1B visas, because they disrupt the normal supply and demand flow for wages do indeed supress wages. While that is not the intended purpose of H1B visas, that is the practical effect.

          • H1B visas are all about cheap immigration. You have an entire global class of people that make less in their own country, but are provided with more opportunities in America. There are billions of people on this planet. A fraction of those are educated enough to work in America; so they do because they can. Of those that are educated, working for less in America is still an increase in lifestyle. Only the wealthy and investment class in America profit from this. The multi-generational middle class native to

        • The law mandates comparable, fair market value wages for the starting salary. H1B is for three years, extendable to six years and if a green card application is filed, it is extended infinitely. No requirement to even give COLA for those years. And in practice, they hire H1Bs in Tulsa OK, and transfer them to Boston or Chicago or New York. It is a joke. H1Bs lower American salaries, there is no question about it.

          But that is the lesser of the two evils. The businesses have a knife at the throat of America

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          Nonsense. Those visas mandate proper salaries (note that the article says nothing about this point)

          If we artificially pump up the supply of domestic workers (by importing them with H1-B visas), it drives down salaries for everyone.
          H1-B workers serve to devalue the "proper salary" that would be paid if they weren't in the country.

          TLDR: Basic supply and demand applies here.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wrong, and you're also a hypocrite. You don't mind near slaves and children making everything you buy, the same countries can do you software work just as well too, and for less. Would you rather these people live in the US for a while, pay taxes for your benefits, or have all that money go overseas and have them work in their original country?

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          Wrong, and you're also a hypocrite. You don't mind near slaves and children making everything you buy, the same countries can do you software work just as well too, and for less. Would you rather these people live in the US for a while, pay taxes for your benefits, or have all that money go overseas and have them work in their original country?

          Ummm, these people coming in on H1B visas aren't working in sweatshops in SE Asia. Nor would changing H1B visa laws impact those sweatshops one bit. Besides, aren't those same H1B visa holders purchasing the same goods in the US that the rest of the people are, thus exploiting the "slave labor and children"? As for the taxes? I'm pretty sure that whomever IBM (in this case) hired in the US, they would be paying taxes, too. As such, all the things you mention make no difference whether a domestic worker or

        • Wrong, and you're also a hypocrite. You don't mind near slaves and children making everything you buy ...

          And you know this how? The GP mentioned nothing about that. Do you often make gross and often inaccurate generalizations? That's the root of prejudice.

          Would you rather these people live in the US for a while, pay taxes for your benefits, or have all that money go overseas and have them work in their original country?

          That's an old and very weak rationalization for the H-1B program. Given how much lower salaries are in some countries, even compared to H-1B salaries, and that, unlike the H-1B program, there are no limits on foreign hiring, companies will move any jobs they can offshore. It's not as though they had even a shred of loyalty to the people and the country that b

      • by edibobb (113989)
        The purpose of the H1B program is to bring high-quality workers into the U.S. The vast majority of H1B immigrants I've known are an asset to the country and I am happy to have them here, even if it means more competition.
  • by innocent_white_lamb (151825) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:06AM (#44977499)

    Yep, a whole $44,400 fine. That's got to sting a multi-billion dollar company. Bet they won't dare try that again.

  • by M. Baranczak (726671) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:17AM (#44977535)

    The heavy hand of big government continues to stifle the economy. Just think how many jobs they could create if they still had that $44,400.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by msmonroe (2511262)
      Do you smoke crack often?
      The government is creating the problem but not in the way your implying. It's supporting the mythology of a labor shortage by turning a blind eye to practices that seem to show that there is an IT shortage when it's actually the opposite problem and the issue is that there is a shortage of labor at a low wage.
      We can argue free market, but there is only a free market with government regulation. You can argue that's it's not true, but you can see historically that I'm right.
  • by unicorn (8060) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:23AM (#44977551)

    That fine is so small, it could be paid of of petty cash at a startup.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:35AM (#44977579)

    IBM agreed to pay $44,400 in civil penalties to the U.S.

    Well gee, why don't you make them switch the way the toilet paper falls over the roll as well, you fascists!

    • by v1 (525388)

      IBM agreed to pay $44,400 in civil penalties

      And IBM execs high-fived each other and shouted "TOTALLY worth it!!" as they took their millions to the bank.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:48AM (#44977615)

    We need IT unions now and better training Not more high cost schools that give you skill gaps.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968)

      LOL. What is this, 1955? Labor unions don't exist to help workers. Labor unions exist to help labor union bosses and funnel money to one particular political party. That's it.

      Maybe once upon a time, a long time ago, labor unions had a point. Not any more. They are corrupt cannot even keep their own members from deserting. Why are their members deserting? Because labor bosses don't give a shit about their members. Moreover unions are racist [google.com.hk].

      The cure you propose is worse than the disease.

      • by St.Creed (853824)

        That the USA has a history of rotten unions is obvious. It also has a history of much better ones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Workers_of_the_World). In the 90's we had some trouble over here with a union that didn't do anything for its members either. A new one was founded and quickly outmatched the old one whose members left in droves for the new union.

        Having no union is still worse than even a corrupt union, though, as the corrupt union has to do at least *something* for their members in orde

        • That the USA has a history of rotten unions is obvious. It also has a history of much better ones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Workers_of_the_World). In the 90's we had some trouble over here with a union that didn't do anything for its members either. A new one was founded and quickly outmatched the old one whose members left in droves for the new union.

          Having no union is still worse than even a corrupt union, though, as the corrupt union has to do at least *something* for their members in order to get them to join. And if you're in a closed shop, you can apply and organize inside the union. Not easy but sitting back and complaining never helped anyone.

          Soooo, You're saying that there's a Market for Unions? And that people will choose the one that works for them? How Capital!

      • So because Democracy can be subverted with money we should do away with it and switch to Fascism? Unions exist for a reason. That reason has not gone away. The rich are still power hungry and still want us to fight amongst ourselves to increase their power. 55 years of mostly OK life in America (if you're not Black and in the South) has not changed 2000+ years of people being awful.
      • by prefec2 (875483)

        Maybe you should try to learn from other countries. We have unions and they are quite helpful in many aspects to protect employees. For example, have a look at German unions. It could open your eyes. Furthermore, Germany's corporations have a board of directors which include 50% representatives from the labor force of the company and a workers committee. All these elements help companies to perform better and to level power between the owners, employers, and employees. It is not perfect, but when I think ab

    • No, what we need is to apply the same H-1B hiring strategy to lawfirms. Once lawyers start to get displaced, an unholy hell shall be unleashed.
    • How much more suffering does IBM want from american people?
    • by bengoerz (581218)
      What we need is IT unions IN OTHER COUNTRIES.

      It would raise prices abroad, and narrow the disparity in standard of living (thereby eroding one of the main reasons H1B applicants want to come to the US).
  • Why is it that free market principles don't apply to IT wages? If there is a shortage of IT workers, then salaries should rise.
    • by msmonroe (2511262)
      I agree, the system is being gamed by saying that there is a labor shortage and the only way we can fill the need is by bringing labor from another country and by the way oddly enough we can pay them less. It's clear that the system is gamed, like you said, normally someone who is in short supply is paid more.
  • by Delusion_ (56114) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:08AM (#44977667) Homepage

    Just wrote something about H1Bs in a different post. Modified to be more relevant to this post:

    Every time a company tells Congress they need more H1Bs, they're not telling you they can't find programmers, they're telling you they don't want to pay a competitive wage. Combine this with the fact that a lot of programmer types consider themselves too "individualist" to be involved with anything so "workmanly" as a labour union, and you set up a system where talented workers' wages are artificially reduced.

    The result is a competent creative who is suddenly being pitted against people whose standard of living requires a third or less of the salary by a company whose primary interest isn't in being a good corporate citizen, investing in the community, or even playing by the rules that conservative and libertarian proponents pay lip service to, but increasing "shareholder value" by any means necessary no matter who suffers, and no matter how bad it is for the community, the region, and the country.

    • The result is a competent creative who is suddenly being pitted against people whose standard of living requires a third or less of the salary by a company whose primary interest isn't in being a good corporate citizen, investing in the community, or even playing by the rules that conservative and libertarian proponents pay lip service to, but increasing "shareholder value" by any means necessary no matter who suffers, and no matter how bad it is for the community, the region, and the country.

      A company's sole purpose is to increase shareholder value; as defined by the shareholders. Some companies include things beyond a financial return, or believe being socially responsible results in greater returns; but in any case they driver is still shareholder value and shareholders ultimately vote with their wallets.

      • A company's sole purpose is to increase shareholder value; as defined by the shareholders. Some companies include things beyond a financial return, or believe being socially responsible results in greater returns; but in any case they driver is still shareholder value and shareholders ultimately vote with their wallets.

        WRONG.

        A sane company's purpose should be to:

        Provide a good or service that delights customers.
        Make enough money doing it that they can fairly compensate their suppliers and employees.
        Put most of the remaining profits back into long-term investments.
        Borrow from (and repay) shareholders as little as possible.

        We lost sight of that a few decades ago, which is why our economy remains in the crapper.
        We won't be able to fix it until we realize that customers and employees are more important than short-term shareh

        • Sorry, but that doesn't work. Shareholders put up the capital needed to enable the formation of the company in the first place. It is these people who are taking the bulk of the risk in the formation of a company. Unless companies return as much as possible to these risk takers they won't be interested in supplying capital again; in fact they may not even have any capital any more.

          You think you have a problem with job formation now? Wait until your supply of capital dries up.

      • The result is a competent creative who is suddenly being pitted against people whose standard of living requires a third or less of the salary by a company whose primary interest isn't in being a good corporate citizen, investing in the community, or even playing by the rules that conservative and libertarian proponents pay lip service to, but increasing "shareholder value" by any means necessary no matter who suffers, and no matter how bad it is for the community, the region, and the country.

        A company's sole purpose is to increase shareholder value; as defined by the shareholders. Some companies include things beyond a financial return, or believe being socially responsible results in greater returns; but in any case they driver is still shareholder value and shareholders ultimately vote with their wallets.

        You make it sound like Democracy. It isn't. Most corporations have the majority of their voting shares in the hands of a very small number of people and/or investment organizations that have little interest in their investments other than strictly financial.

        Corporations operate under Charter. Charters are granted by States, which ostensibly operate to the good of their citizens. Meaning that the State determined that the Corporation in question would benefit the State and thus (theoretically) the citizens t

        • by Delusion_ (56114)

          You bring up a point I don't think is understood well enough in the classical "supply and demand" method of educating and indoctrinating children about capitalism.

          In the last few decades, the typical American has been told over and over that passively investing in reputable mutual funds are a Good Thing, either directly or more frequently via a 401K or IRA. And, honestly, this is mostly true.

          It's had a side effect, however, into convincing working-class Americans into thinking of themselves as "investors"

      • A company's sole purpose is to increase shareholder value

        And since they have such a single-minded and potentially abusive purpose, and no conscience, we've historically had laws and regulations to limit their behavior.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      not to piss on your parade but your wages are really ridiculous - if someone out waged themselves then it's the american worker. that is you had too good pay negotiations(usually paradoxically that's associated with "too powerful" unions!)

      in Finland you can get Msc's for 3000-3600/month(sure it costs a bit more for the employer than that but that's what the employee gets pre-tax. for the record the employy pays roughly 30% of that in taxes and tax like deductions). that's something like 50k of dollars per y

  • by bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:10AM (#44977673)
    I've seen strip club tabs higher than that...
  • by CommanderK (1078087) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @06:06AM (#44978089)
    Both the summary and some commenters make the same huge mistake by putting IT people and programmers in the same bucket. A C++ programmer has completely different skills and responsibilities from a PHP/HTML programmer, who has a completely different job from a network/system administrator. The latter could be considered IT (and their pay is usually lower), whereas the former are developers (requiring extra creativity and more skill, and are better paid). In my experience working in the Bay Area, there really is a shortage of competent high-skill systems developers/programmers (the kind of guys who design Google and Facebook infrastructure, like Big Table), but not a shortage of PHP or Java programmers or sysadmins.
    • huge mistake by putting IT people and programmers in the same bucket

      Do you suffer from lack of oxygen by sticking your nose so far up in the air? They're different, but both are affected by the H-1B program.

      In my experience working in the Bay Area, there really is a shortage of competent high-skill systems developers/programmers

      Here's a hint: there are parts of the US outside of the bay area. Bay area provincialism may have blinded you to that fact, so consider this a helpful reminder.

  • H-1B visas need to be restricted even more. Companies are seriously abusing them. They are hiring people out of the US, importing them on those visas, training them here then sending them back overseas to do the work. Companies are using this to skirt the ITAR restrictions. If engineers did the work in the US some of that work would be ITAR restricted but if it's done overseas then it's not as restricted. Companies are employing farms of engineers overseas now.

    Their claim of not enough qualified people in
    • H-1B visas need to be restricted even more.

      The best way to restrict H-1B visas is to completely eliminate the program. It was never needed in the first place.

  • I would preferentially hire someone from India for a US job that would eventually relocate to India too, or wherever the job was meant to be. This is actually the best use of an H1B I can think of rather than flooding the market with more Chinese engineers. Most of the studies I have read seem to imply that there is no real shortage of talent for just about every technical profession.

  • That is, in IBM's mad rush to eliminate 100% of all US employment (except for executives) by 2015 they, admittedly occasionally, offer a devil's bargain to US based employees being cut: relocate overseas on your dime to take a job at CURRENT LOCAL wages and you get to keep your job.

    Makes you wonder how much longer IBM will be an American company, legally. They may as well re incorporate in India or Ireland at this point. 50,000 regular full time employees in the US and dropping. Most new jobs going to low s

  • "IBM agreed to pay $44,400 in civil penalties to the U.S"

    And yet that's the fine for about two songs if you're a regular person.

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      So you're saying that RIAA should be in charge of the H1-B Visas and their allocation?

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.

Working...