Employer right to claim money after resignation


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Hi all,


I have been working in a position at a small consulting firm for 8 months now on an H1-B. The job is not what I expected it to be, the salary is not enough to get by on (something I have discussed with my employer) and I really just want to get back home now.


Despite living very carefully, a couple of medical bills mean I am now in more debt than when I arrived, at this point I am ready to cut my losses, so the other day I started to apply for jobs back home.


When I first started applying for my H1-B, my employer mentioned by email that they would seek to claim damages if I left before the 3 years was up. 


When my H1-B application went through, the only contact I signed stated as follows with regards to terms of employment:


"Your salary will be $xxx annually along with standard benefits provided other [company] professionals.   You will be paid on [x date every month].  You will be working x hours per week and will be paid [x] weeks’ vacation after your first year of full time employment.  You will accumulate sick days [at x rate per year].


Additionally, we agree to pay the reasonable cost of your return transportation should your employment terminate earlier than anticipated for any reason other than voluntary resignation.

Your status is as an employee of [company] and is entitled to receive health insurance and dental insurance.  


You are also eligible for continuing education credits and a Simple IRA.  Yours is a full-time position, and like all [Company] employees, you will be an employee at-will."



A couple of quick points:


When they filled out the LCA, they signed off on me working in one location when I am actually working 50 miles away in a more expensive to live location. Looking at the OFLC online wage calculator I am being paid a fraction of what I should be, even at level 1 (something I have also bought to their attention - their response when I discussed this with them was: why do you think you are worth any more money?). 


My vacation time, I actually refused to sign off on, but since they forgot a contract in my H1-B application they pre dated it and had me sign it after the RFE. They promised me I would receive more vacation time than stated - something they have been true to their word on. (It was however a huge red flag for me at the time, but I figured I had nothing to lose)


There are no continuing education credits nor Simple IRA, and my dental and health insurance have to be paid by myself. 


There was not stated nor was there offered any relocation assistance. I paid for flights and everything myself - aside from the H1-B application and the attorney fees.


I know when I leave, as they are a small consulting firm, it will put them in a difficult position as there is no one else in the company with the technical knowledge to continue on with my work, but I really am unhappy here. I do not want to burn bridges, but I can say with confidence they will give at best no reference at all, at worst a bad one. Since working I have seen this being done with other employees in similar situations (these employees however were not on visas).


So my question is, when I do return home, what notice period should I give? Should they seek to claim damages, is there anything they can really do?


I have always left other jobs with a minimum of 2 weeks notice, often more if possible, to ease the stress on them, but I can see the company making life as difficult for me as possible if I choose to do this.


With my current position what I wish to do, is leave my resignation letter on my desk the night before I leave and catch a flight out of the country early next morning. Would this be acceptable in this situation?


At the end of the day I am in a worse position financially than when I arrived. I have no money for a lawyer, should they pursue me through legal channels after I leave, I will have no way of supporting myself.

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1. Are you getting paid the LCA salary?

2. Run the contract by a Labor Lawyer in your state and he will give you his take. This will not be too expensive.

3. Even if you give them their notice period, they cannot do anything. Civil matters remain civil matters.

4. Consider complaining to the federal DOL about the placement situation.

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Thank you for the replies.

I'm fine with paying my own return transportation, just nervous they will try and claim damages from me - once I'm gone - my projects are dead in the water, until they can hire someone else to do that work.

I'm getting paid the LCA salary but was not told the amount in advance just that it would be competitive. I was given the H1B package of documents before I went for my visa stamping which contained this. I honestly thought I would get rejected when I looked through it and saw the figure - but it didn't.

The LCA does however stipulate a working location, as close as you can physically get and they've put an address miles away in another county, which qualifies for a much lower rate.

I will have a look at labor lawyers and see what they cost, thank you.

I'm am definitely considering complaining, if I could get back some of the extra money I should be paid - or at least save someone else from going through this situation.

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