Forced Labor Alleged in Visa Class Action

     DALLAS (CN) – A federal class action alleging forced labor, human trafficking and RICO violations claims a financial services tech company uses bait-and-switch tactics to lure foreign workers, whom it defrauds and underpays in violation of their employment agreements and of visa rules.



     Lead plaintiff Venkata Sudhakar Amerineni sued Maruthi Technologies dba Anblicks, three Maruthi officers, and Gavs Information Services dba Gavs Technologies.
     Maruthi’s home page on the Internet claim it offers “innovative solutions for moving forward and navigat[ing] the road to recovery for financial sector.”
     The class claims Maruthi uses bait-and-switch tactics to recruit foreign workers, then does not pay the full, legally required prevailing wages to workers with H-1B visas.
     Defendant Vamsi Kadiyala is described as a U.S. citizen and resident of India, who travels to the United States to do business for Maruthi and himself.
     “At all material times, Vamsi Kadiyala has been an owner of Maruthi. Vamsi Kadiyala was responsible for directing fraudulent operations and making false representations and attestations on behalf of Maruthi with regard to H-1B workers, including representations made regarding the plaintiff’s H-1B visa application,” the complaint states.
     Defendant Padmaja Kadiyala also is described as a U.S. citizen who lives in India and travels to the United States for business. She is accused of being “responsible for directing fraudulent operations and making false representations and attestations on behalf of Maruthi with regard to H-1B workers as discussed herein, including representations made regarding the plaintiff’s H-1B visa application.”
     Defendant Kumar Tirumal, of Irving, Texas, “has been the operations director of Maruthi,” the complaint states. “Tirumal was responsible for directing fraudulent operations and making false representations and attestations on behalf of Maruthi with regard to H-1B workers as discussed herein.”
     According to the complaint: “The Immigration and Nationality Act (‘INA’) limits the types of foreign workers eligible for H-1B visas, and imposes prevailing wage requirements on H-1B sponsor employers in order to protect American workers. “These wage requirements include that sponsor employers are required to pay their H-1B employees the higher of (a) actual wages the employer pays co-workers in related positions or (b) a ‘prevailing wage’ for the specialty, as determined by an independent survey of wages paid to workers similarly employed in the geographic area of intended employment. Sponsor employers are further required to provide prevailing wages to H-1B employees during the periods that they are in nonproductive status (commonly called ‘benched’ status): that is, when the H-1B worker is not performing work due to a decision by the employer, e.g., because of lack of assigned work. … These wage requirements are designed to both prevent exploitation of foreign workers and to avoid the influx of cheap foreign labor for professional services.”
     Amerineni claims Maruthi promised him $63,000 a year, but when he arrived, told him there was no work available and that he would not be paid for nonproductive time.
     “Maruthi requires these H-1B employees to obtain third-party consulting work and steer income from that work to Maruthi before these individuals are paid any wages,” the complaint states.
     “In addition to unpaid ‘benched’ periods at the start of their employment relationship with Maruthi, those employees who do eventually find third-party consulting work often experience gap periods between consulting projects. These Maruthi H-1B employees are not paid the required prevailing wage, or any wages, during these gap periods of nonproductive/benched time.
     “Maruthi H-1B employees who do find paying project work continue to be underpaid by defendants, and receive less than the required prevailing wage or the wage promised by Maruthi,” according to the complaint.
     Gavs is accused of participating in the scheme by arranging third-party work for Maruthi’s H-1B workers.
     The class consists of all H-1B workers employed by Maruthi in the past 4 years who have been paid less than the full prevailing wage. It seeks damages for RICO violations, forced labor and human trafficking, and breach of contract.
     It is represented by Michael Brown with Peterson, Berk & Cross in Appleton, Wisc.

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