A Hopeful Story — H-1B Age Discrimination Victim Fights Back

By David North on May 13, 2013

An American citizen I know apparently suffered age discrimination at the hands of a smallish H-1B employer and is fighting back. (Though I know the name, he or she will remain nameless for reasons explained below.)

The citizen is 61 and has been doing serious IT work for a long, long time. The citizen applied for an advertised job with a New Jersey firm looking for a 15-month-employee as a project manager to work on an IT contract with an "investment bank" in New York City.

The firm's ad — and this shows what I consider both egregious age bias and monumental stupidity — said that the job was available only to applicants with an "age not more than 45 years".

The citizen did not get the job, and was not interviewed. The applicant hired a lawyer and sued in New Jersey's Superior Court, under that state's state anti-discrimination law, saying that the citizen had not been hired because of age.

I report this for two reasons: 1) The citizen is doing what other experienced citizen programmers should be doing vis-a-vis H-1B employers, suing them for age discrimination; and 2) this citizen has done this before, and though I cannot be certain, I am pretty sure that the citizen won the earlier case.

The employer this time is Samiti Technology, a company with an office in Iselin, N.J, just outside New York City, and another office, perhaps the main one, in India. Its website gives a hint regarding its hiring policies saying "Samiti is hiring fresh graduates for their staffing process at India office."

According to an H-1B-related website, Samiti did not use the H-1B program before 2011. In that year it filed for a single H-1B and in 2012 it filed for 35 of them. It is in the IT consulting business and might be called, though I gather that this is not politically correct, an "Indian body shop".

The job the citizen wanted has been presumably filled by an H-1B.

The U.S. worker goes into court this time with what I think is a winning record on such matters. The citizen, as a job applicant, previously tangled with the huge H-1B user Infosys, which had advertised it needed no more than a maximum amount of experience for another job. The applicant charged age discrimination, got a document (which I did not see) from the U.S. Equal Employment Commission on the case, and took it into federal court in Newark, N.J. The judge took one look at it and ordered arbitration. Before that could start, the citizen and the citizen's lawyer at the time settled out of court, as I described in a blog at the time.

As is usually the case, the settlement called for silence from all parties and I have no information on what happened ... but I can guess. With the alternative of a trial that probably would have favored the citizen, and aided by a lawyer, I cannot imagine anything but a financial settlement in favor of the wronged applicant.

Again, I do not know that this is what happened.

Obviously the H-1B law should be changed, and not in the direction favored by the Gang of Eight. Obviously the government should be seeking to enforce the law on such matters, and should not leave it to individuals.

But as long as these things are not happening, more citizens (and green card holders) like this individual should be doing what this one is doing, and suing the H-1B users when they are foolish enough to show their age bias in their hiring process. In too many cases, of course, the HR departments steer clear of — in effect — pleading guilty in their ads ahead of time, as this one did, and in those cases it is harder to prove age discrimination.

The reason that I am not using the name of the citizen is that I want that person to keep filing suits against age-discriminating H-1B users and I do not want to run the risk, no matter how slender, that H-1B users will learn the name from me, and handle applications from that person differently in the future.

To be continued …