Some of the most profitable companies in today's economy are in the tech industry. You wouldn't know that, though, by looking at the salaries of the employees who have helped make these companies so successful--H-1B visa holders. The H-1B visa program permits employers to temporarily hire non-immigrants--many of whom are from China or India--to fill specialized jobs, mostly in the IT sector.
A survey the Center for Immigration Studies conducted in 2005 revealed that H-1B workers are overwhelmingly concentrated at the bottom of the U.S. pay scale and a significant number of these workers earn less than the prevailing wage employers claim. In fact many earn $13,000 less than Americans in the same position and geographic location.
When employers put procedures in place that eliminate pay inequity, they reduce the risks of penalties and litigation and ease the financial suffering of H-1B workers. And when corporations pay H-1B workers the prevailing wage, they create a more productive work force that can give them a competitive edge in the marketplace.
Laurie N. Robinson is an assistant general counsel for CBS Broadcasting Inc., director of CBS Training and Development and founder and CEO of Corporate Counsel Women of Color.