Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., part of an Indian conglomerate, is one of the top users of the H-1B visa program, with more than 16,000 petitions approved between the 2011 and 2013 fiscal years, federal records show. Former Tata workers say the company tried to collect fees from them after they quit. Many immigrant tech workers say they are bound to their jobs this way, despite a federal law banning companies from penalizing H-1B visa holders for quitting. But such bonding agreements may not be enforceable, even in Indian courts.
Indian workers hired for U.S. jobs received an employee manual explaining that they would be sued for up to $30,000 if they left before the end of their contracts. The company also threatened to withhold retirement benefits.
A 2003 Tata agreement required that an employee work in the United States for up to a year. The contract reinforced a strict company ban against leaving Tata before the end of the assignment.
Tata demands money
One former Tata employee received an email from the company demanding more than 500,000 Indian rupees – about $8,200 – for damages and an “overseas breach amount” after he resigned. The worker negotiated with Tata to reduce what he owed to about 300,000 rupees, or roughly $5,000 – a sum that the worker’s parents used their savings to pay.
Class-action lawsuit filed
Another worker alleged that after he gave Tata eight months’ notice that he would be leaving his job to go to school, the company demanded the equivalent of $10,000, threatened to withhold work papers necessary for getting a green card and sent letters to his parents in New Delhi. He didn’t pay and eventually joined a successful class-action lawsuit accusing the company of illegally keeping employees’ tax refunds.