Justice for temporary teachers in a Maryland school district means that though they will see reimbursement of back wages, they won’t be able to keep their jobs.
According to U.S. Department of Labor reports, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) reduced the wages of 1,044 teachers hired through the H-1B temporary foreign worker program in 2003. They were required to pay visa fees to the school, and saw their wages reduced in return.
The H-1B visa requires employers to pay foreign workers the same wage rate as Americans holding the same job.
PGCPS also made the teachers use their own money to pay a total of $5,000 in anti-fraud, attorney and placement fees, according to the investigation.
Thursday, the DOL ordered the school system to pay $4.2 million in back wages, and also banned them for two years from petitioning or requesting extensions for any employment-related visa programs. They’ll be paying $100k in civil penalties, too.
It’s not lot of money when you take into consideration that 256 workers due for visa renewal are now jobless because they didn’t yet attain “green-card” status.
The school system tried to rectify the mistake by saying they weren’t “adequately advised” of how the program was to be handled.
Spokesman Briant Coleman said, “PGCPS did everything possible to retain these excellent and valued employees. However, in the final analysis of the current state of our shrinking school budget and mounting legal fees, we determined that we simply could not afford to continue to operate this program.”
After the DOL’s decision, hundreds of the workers (most of whom were recruited through Filipino agency Arrowhead, Inc.) stormed the school’s board of education office, with letters of appeal pleading to keep their jobs.
The astonishing part was that they claimed they voluntarily paid the fees and cared more about their jobs than reimbursement.
They feel as if they’re the ones being punished for the crime by “unfair termination.”
According to an article on ABS-CBNNews.com, the Baltimore Public School System is hurriedly trying to cover their asses now. After hearing of the DOL’s decision, according to the report, they are said to be paying back their own illegally collected fees to their Filipino teachers.
I’d like to be a fly on the wall at their future school board budget hearings, as the administration struggles to explain why they have to cut activities and funding.
The decision is not completely final, as an administrative law judge still has to approve the settlement.