It appears that the various ways in which employers try to take advantage of non-U.S. citizens working in the U.S. are endless. The usual illegal business practices include everything from employers paying their workers below minimum wage to refusing the pay overtime compensation to those that work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.
The latest scheme allegedly comes from Bosch, the German multinational tech company.
An Indian techie who worked for Bosch in the United States has recently filed a class action lawsuit against his former employer for allegedly making non-U.S. citizen employees transfer their tax refunds (both state and federal) to the company. Tax returns are money that employees receive from the government if they have overpaid on their taxes for the year. The money comes directly out of their paycheck and therefore belongs to the employee, not the employer.
The proposed class of Bosch employees has the potential to consist of 160 members, if all current and former non-U.S. citizens working for the tech company in the United States are included.
The plaintiff, Suraj Kamath, is a citizen of India, and worked for Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions, initially in India beginning in 2005. He was transferred to Santa Barbara, California in 2009. There, he worked as a project manager until May 2013.
According to the class action lawsuit, Bosch allegedly sent letters to some of its employees, including Kamath, detailing the amounts of tax refunds they had received for the tax years 2006 through 2011. The letter then allegedly told the employees that they had to “repay this amount” to Bosch before January 1, 2013 or arrange for payroll deductions by December 27, 2012.
When the tax refunds of various employees that Bosch asked for is totaled, it allegedly reaches the tens of thousands of dollars. When Kamath objected to Bosch’s demand that he pay them back the money he had earned, Bosch’s managers allegedly told him that, “We will make sure that your career is destroyed and you will not be able to find a job anywhere. We will make your life miserable if you don’t sign (the declaration promising to pay back to Bosch the tax refunds you received).”
Kamath still refused to sign the document, at which point Bosch asked him to return to India and refused to pay him for the work that he had done in 2012.
According to the complaint, other employees who agreed to sign the document have already had the amounts of their tax refunds deducted from their payroll checks.
Kamath and the proposed class are currently being represented by Daniel M. Hutchinson. In a statement, Mr. Hutchinson said that “All Bosch employees should receive their full wages, and that includes the tax refunds that they are entitled to. These employees deserve to be treated fairly, and not have their livelihoods threatened for insisting that Bosch comply with the law.” Indeed, all employees should feel safe to speak out when their employer violates their rights. It is currently illegal in the United States for an employer to fire an employee for objecting to the company’s illegal business practices. However, that rarely prohibits employers from inventing other reasons for firing their workers.
The attorneys at Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience litigating wage and hour cases, including overtime, vacation pay, meal breaks, and tips. We have offices conveniently located in Oakbrook Terrace and Chicago, Illinois. Contact an Evanston and Joliet wage and hour lawyer at the Chicago Overtime Law Center today at 312-869-4095.