Credit: Matt Smith / CIR

The Center for Investigative Reporting has won a national award for “Techsploitation,” an investigative series that explored how unscrupulous labor brokers exploit workers on temporary visas.

The awards were presented by the South Asian Journalists Association, which is based at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.

CIR’s investigation into America’s temporary visa program for high-skilled workers won for outstanding business story. Matt Smith, Jennifer Gollan and Adithya Sambamurthy revealed how Indian technology workers on temporary visas are trapped by nightmare contracts in the U.S. that trigger hefty penalties and crippling lawsuits if they quit.

The investigation was followed by decisive action. Within three weeks, President Obama issued an executive order on immigration, including provisions making it easier for work visa holders to change jobs and for whistleblowers to seek protection. The departments of Labor, Justice and Homeland Security created a working group to shore up enforcement. In addition, Obama’s executive order allowed some visa holders to transfer their applications for permanent resident cards from one job to another, instead of requiring them to restart the process.

Jennifer Gollan

Jennifer Gollan is an award-winning reporter for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

She has reported on topics ranging from oil companies that dodge accountability for workers’ deaths to shoddy tire manufacturing practices that kill motorists. Her series on rampant exploitation and abuse of caregivers in the burgeoning elder care-home industry, Caregivers and Takers, prompted a congressional hearing and a statewide enforcement sweep in California to recover workers’ wages. Another investigation — focused on how Navy shipbuilders received billions in public money even after their workers were killed or injured on the job — led to tightened federal oversight of contractors’ safety violations.

Gollan’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Guardian US and Politico Magazine, as well as on PBS NewsHour and Al Jazeera English’s “Fault Lines” program. Her honors include a national Emmy Award, a Hillman Prize for web journalism, two Sigma Delta Chi Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a National Headliner Award, a Gracie Award and two Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing awards. Gollan is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.