FREMONT, CA -- A Bay Area graphics company is in hot water with the U.S. Department of Labor for paying some of its Indian workers brought to the U.S. in rupees. Now, the type of currency isn't the issue, it's how much those paychecks turned out to be worth.
A spokesperson for Electronics for Imaging, or EFI, says the company didn't realize it there was a problem until they were contacted by the labor department.
The issue dates back to Sept. 2013, when the company flew eight of its employees in India from Bangalore to the United States to help with a project here. They were in the Bay Area for about three months.
Once in Fremont, those workers helped install the company's server and systems as EFI moved its headquarters from Foster City to their current location.
But EFI admits they kept paying the employees what they were making in India, in rupees. The problem is that amounted to approximately $1.24 per hour. And some of the employees were working round the clock, more than 100 hours a week.
"The fact that these employees were working in the United States, they are protected under the federal labor law, regardless of their immigrant status," said Susana Blanco with the U.S. Department of Labor.
In a statement, EFI spokesperson Beverly Rubin told ABC7 News: "To help our local IT team with a complex move of our Bay Area facility and data center, we brought a few of our IT employees from India for a short assignment in the U.S. During this assignment they continued to be paid their regular pay in India, as well as a special bonus for their efforts on this project. During this process we unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local U.S. standards. When this was brought to our attention, we cooperated fully with the Department of Labor, and did not hesitate to correct our mistake and to make our Indian colleagues whole based on U.S. laws, including for all overtime worked. We have also taken steps to ensure that this type of administrative error does not reoccur."
EFI paid those Indian employees about $40,000 in unpaid wages, along with some fines and penalties.
The company also says they've taken steps to make sure nothing similar happens in the future.
EFI paid Indian employees working in US less than $2 an hour