Ignoring California’s wage-and-hour rules is a big mistake—no matter where an employer is based. When foreign-owned corporations assign employees to work in California, California’s employment rules apply.
They can’t manipulate the system by creating employment contracts that essentially bypass minimum wage, overtime and other worker protections.
Recent case: When Indian company Tata Consulting brought workers from India to work in the United States, it came up with an innovative way to keep wages low while appearing to comply with immigration laws. At least that’s what several Tata employees allege in a class-action lawsuit.
The workers claim the company reneged on paying wages the company promised to them when they signed on and applied for visas. The company allegedly brought the workers to California, but paid them wages comparable to what they would have earned in India. Tata allegedly did that by over-withholding taxes, preparing tax returns and then requiring the workers to sign tax refund checks over to the company.
The case has now been certified as a collective action based on violations of California wage laws, including the requirement that employees must be paid their stated wages. (Beri, et al., v. Tata Consulting, et al., No. C-06-0963, ND CA, 2012)
Final note: Enterprising lawyers are on the lookout for cases like this. In an era of high U.S. unemployment, you can expect many more wage-and-hour cases to turn into potentially costly class-action litigation.