A group of UC San Francisco workers who are in the process of losing their jobs to foreign workers sued the university.  They are asking that their positions be saved, and that the practice of foreign outsourcing be curtailed.

Ten workers in UCSF’s information technology division lodged discrimination claims with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.  They allege that they were laid-off because they are older and from the United States.  They are being replaced with younger technicians from India.

Outsourcing in Silicon Valley is a very common practice.  Typically, foreign workers are much cheaper than their American counterparts.  However, this layoff is unique because it involves a public institution.  Typically, public institutions such as colleges like UCSF do not outsource their IT work.

Over the summer, about 80 technicians with UCSF received their notices of layoff.  Thirty of those laid-off were independent contractors, and the other 50 are employees of the school.  The university claims that the layoffs are legal, and are in accordance with the UC policies.  UCSF says that using outsourcing will save the university money and improve overall quality.

The laid off employees will lose their jobs in February of 2017.  Many of them are training their replacements in India using emails and video conferencing.  Although naturally most employees who are being laid-off do not want to train their replacements, in this instance, they must do so in order to receive a severance package.

None of the laid-off employees have filed a lawsuit yet, but it’s likely a lawsuit will be forthcoming.  UC president Janet Napolitano says that the university’s decision appears to be a misuse of the H-1B visa program.  The H-1B visa allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, such as information technology.  It’s designed to allow foreign workers to stay in the U.S. to fill jobs that cannot be filled by American workers.  Under the H-1B visa rules, a job must be posted locally before it can be filled with a foreign visa-holder.  Many employees of UCSF recently found job listings for their own positions posted in the school’s cafeteria.

These job cuts amount to about 20 percent of the school’s IT staff.  The university believes it will save about $30 million over five years by outsourcing with an Indian employment firm.  Many of the laid off workers warn that service will suffer, especially with the hospital and patient security.

UCSF is not the only organization under fire for misuse of the H-1B visa program, as well as discrimination.  A group of 30 Disney employees in Florida recently sued the company, claiming that they are victims of national origin discrimination because they were fired and were replaced by contractors from India. They too were required to train their replacements.  Each replacement worker was of Indian origin, and was either brought from overseas or was working outside the U.S.

Although it’s unclear if the laid-off UCSF workers will file a lawsuit, they may have valid claims.  By law, it is illegal to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of age or national origin.  It appears that all of the workers who were fired were American, and many were over the age of 40.  All of the replacement workers were of Indian origin, and most, if not all, are under the age of 40.  In addition, the workers may allege an abuse of the H-1B visa program in their lawsuits.

If you have been replaced by a foreign worker, and you believe that you have been a victim of illegal national origin discrimination, you should speak with an attorney.  You have legal rights, and a qualified employment law attorney can help you protect those rights.  If you are in the Oakland-San Francisco area, call Oakland employment law attorney Micha Star Liberty at 510-645-1000.  She can help.  Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation on your case.

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