Feds find no wrongdoing by firm that provided foreign workers to Edison

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The U.S. Department of Labor has concluded no wrongdoing in the case of one of two outsourcing contractors that supplied foreign workers to Southern California Edison.

The labor department had been looking into alleged work visa abuse involving India-based IT outsourcing companies Infosys and TCS, which stands for Tata Consultancy Services.

Hiring at the Rosemead-based utility came under scrutiny last year after Edison announced that it would lay off hundreds of employees, including information technology workers. Some of the laid off employees were allegedly replaced with foreign workers.

A Department of Labor spokesman said Wednesday that its investigation into Tata's hiring of workers for Edison remains open.

However, the department found that employees hired by Infosys didn't meet the criteria for a discrimination and displacement complaint.

"The department was investigating whether Infosys was subject to the additional attestation obligations regarding displacement of U.S. workers and recruitment of U.S. workers when filing an H-1B labor condition application," read an emailed statement from the department. It continued: "...in circumstances where a company employs only H-1B workers who receive annual wages of at least $60,000 or who have a master’s or higher degree in a specialty related to the intended employment, the department would not find violations."

Because the foreign workers in question met this description, "the displacement and recruitment provisions do not apply to Infosys, and there were no violations found," a labor department spokesman wrote.

Infosys posted a statement on its website recently saying the company "fully cooperated with the DOL in its investigation, and over 145 files were reviewed, with no violations found."

Edison officials said in an emailed statement only that the company "is aware of Infosys Ltd.’s announcement regarding its Department of Labor (DOL) investigation. "

Earlier this year, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) was one of several lawmakers who called for an investigation into allegations that Edison replaced domestic workers with foreign workers on visas.

On Wednesday, Chu expressed disappointment. She wrote in an emailed statement:

"It is clear that the problem here is with the law. These American jobs were held by loyal, qualified workers who were paid fairly. However they were replaced by cheaper workers earning wages just low enough to qualify these contractors for an exemption from what few protections that exist. This country absolutely needs H-1B visas to bolster our economy when the appropriate workforce is not available, but that doesn't change the fact that something is clearly wrong with the system. In fact, this incident should highlight the need for clarity and spur action in Congress."

Edison announced plans to lay off existing workers and outsource in April of last year. In February, Computerworld reported that Edison IT employees were upset about being replaced by workers from India. Some said they had to train the workers who replaced them.

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