Saras America, a technology consulting company based in Michigan, imported Indian immigrants to the United States for specific tech jobs but then failed to compensate them when no work was available or while they were waiting for their next assignments, federal regulators found. The company required the temporary tech workers to officially “report to work,” but didn’t pay them – for up to five months. Saras is among the few niche recruitment companies that got into trouble for mistreating Indian workers – and yet it continued to survive and thrive.
Regulators crack down
In 2008, investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor recommended that the Michigan-based company be assessed penalties: hefty fines and exclusion from the H-1B visa program.
The company appealed the decision to a judge. The Labor Department agreed to reduce the amount Saras owed in fines and back wages to about $275,000. The federal agency also abandoned its recommendation to blacklist the company from the H-1B program.
Saras lands a contract
In September 2010, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration hired Saras to help modernize its computer systems. The $700,000 agreement was Saras’ first federal contract.
“Perhaps it was pure luck – perhaps it was just happenstance,” Stephen Scruggs, Saras’ vice president of sales and marketing, wrote on a federal contracting forum. He advised other firms to pursue government contracts with similar zeal: “Get out there and make it happen.”