The EEOC — Where Do They Stand, What Can They Do, on Age Discrimination, H-1B?

Earlier this year, two trial attorneys with the San Francisco office of the federal Equal Opportunity Commission invited me and two others to hold a panel discussion on the H-1B work visa. As one of the EEOC staffers described it,

As you probably already know, the EEOC is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal laws against workplace discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability or genetic information.  A few of my colleagues and I heard you present on the panel entitled, “Intersection of Employment Discrimination and Immigration” at the OFCCP training last August in Oakland.  We really enjoyed it, and I thought it would be very useful and timely for other colleagues at the EEOC to hear an encore of that panel presentation to gain a deeper understanding of the H-1B visa program and how it impacts both immigrant and non-immigrant tech workers.

The audience would be federal investigators, trial attorneys, managers and staff from our entire District, which includes San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Seattle, and we plan to invite the EEOC’s National Diversity in Tech Work Group to participate as well.  We anticipate about 50-70 EEOC employees attending the training. 

 

As a lifelong minority activist, I was honored to be invited. But I was also curious, as I had not heard good things about the EEOC regarding H-1B-related issues. I had been told by one software engineer who brought a discrimination case to EEOC that they had informed him that as a white male, he was not eligible for EEOC protection. My concern was further heightened by several troubling facts: The regional director of EEOC is Bill Tamayo, whom I knew to have radical views on immigration;  one of the EEOC staffers who invited me was formerly with the Asian Law Caucus, a very militant pro-immigration organization; and even the EEOC invitation above suggests that they were more concerned about the impact of the H-1B program on the foreign (incorrectly referred to as immigrant) workers than on the U.S. citizens and permanent residnts.

Yet, they did invite me, and the other two panelists were also strong critics of the H-1B program. As noted in the invitation above, all three of us had presented in a similar panel for the OFCCP division of the Dept. of Labor, so EEOC’s reinviting us was a good sign.

It could be that the UCSF IT layoffs and replacement by foreign workers played a role in the EEOC’s invitation. Many, possibly most, of those laid off were people of color, quite a contrast to the media’s portrayal of American victims of H-1B abuse being white.

It turned out to be an excellent exchange, and the two hosts were quite welcoming.

There were, however, some disturbing moments of Political Correctness that occurred during the Q&A session. EEOC attorneys, having foregone more lucrative careers in the corporate world, tend to be the types who “Want to do good, not well.” I’m of that type too, but in the Bay Area that means radical, not just liberal. It means treating any criticism of any immigration policy as tantamount to racism. Rep. Khanna and the Mercury News reporter in my recent VOA debate epitomize this attitude.

One particular example of this involved a young EEOC staffer who seemed to be of South Asian background and who noted in the Q&A session that a white man in Kansas had recently murdered an Indian-national H-1B, which the EEOC staffer thought was prompted by the criticism of the H-1B program in the last year or two in the press. She asked whether critics of the H-1B program were doing anything to prevent such incidents.

It’s a legitimate concern in general, but there is no evidence in this case of such a thing. On the contrary, the perpetrator had told people after the shooting that he had killed an “Iranian.” Yet she seemed to take notion that the killing was related to H-1B as fact. I replied that people like that don’t read the newspaper, so it is unlikely that this guy had even heard about H-1B.

Another EEOC staffer prefaced her question with a statement that philosophically she supports an Open Borders policy, under which anyone could come to live an work in the U.S., no questions asked. She did concede that H-1B is an abusive policy.

After the EEOC people had asked all their questions, I turned the tables on them. I noted that people in the tech world are afraid to file a discrimination complaint, as they fear it would result in their being blacklisted by employers. Is there anything they can do?

The first staffer to answer this question said, “To file a complaint you need a strong backbone and a strong stomach. Before considering filing, check your backbone and check your stomach,” not very encouraging at all, but frankly stated.

The second EEOCer to answer, though, said that it is possible for the Commission to investigate an employer on its own, without a formal complaint from a worker. I then said that I would definitely give them a suggestion on this.

The employer I had in mind was a local bank, with a number of branches in the Bay Area. I had been told that a technical department in this bank hires Chinese and other foreign students, newly graduated, to the almost total exclusion of American applicants. Checking through LinkedIn for this particular employer and this particular job type, the claim I had heard did indeed seem valid.

So, during the panel discussion I said I would send e-mail with the details on this case. I did so, and was told that my request would be considered. I sent a reminder message a couple of weeks later, and was told they had yet to meet on this issue. However, after I later sent more more query, one of the EEOC people then informed me that it would be illegal for them to comment on any ongoing investigation, or even state whether there is an investigation at all.

That is understandable, but the bottom line is that I do not know if an investigation was launched. Three months have passed, and I would guess that they for various reasons declined to investigate that bank.

I must again thank the EEOC people for inviting me and holding a stimulating panel discussion. But I must say that this incident illustrates the frustration that many Americans have toward their government. Their feeling is that this is no longer the government “of the people, by the people and for the people” that they had been taught about in school, leading to so many votes for both Trump and Sanders last year.

 

 

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20 thoughts on “The EEOC — Where Do They Stand, What Can They Do, on Age Discrimination, H-1B?

  1. I read an article earlier today where Craig D’angelo stated that if he were to ask those that were laid off with him 3 years earlier, about 65% are still unemployed.

    It has been since 2003 that I have had steady employment.

    Our wagons are circled.

    When will the Calvary come to our rescue?

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    • That is the same year I began to have problems finding work. And I worked on Playstation at Sony 2 years earlier. I dare anyone to tell me I’m not good enough. And I was still very young then. I have had some good contracts here and there since then, but at least a few years between each. Zero steady employment. We must now face the fact that our industry has been taken over by foreign powers and they have zero intention of ever letting us work in it ever again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • > We must now face the fact that our industry has been taken over by foreign powers and they have zero intention of ever letting us work in it ever again.

        It certainly seems that way sometimes. I really don’t see how this ends well. It would seem to just be a matter of time before those foreign workers, at least those who are working offshore, find a way to dump their U.S. paymasters. We may be training our own competition or, if you prefer, digging our own graves.

        Liked by 1 person

      • What is sad is I work for a non profit that helps wounded warriors.
        The pay is very little because they can afford very little but it kept my head above water so I was ok with it.

        Yesterday they (some of they) contacted me via text and basically told me that I was shaming them because I am always asking for donations on the internet which reflected badly on their organization.

        I basically explained to them that the money is not for me, and I ask for those donations because it will cost $3,000 per week to lobby washington dc with a weekly list of all Americans STEM workers that are unemployed, or unemployable who HAVE THE SKILLS that industry says it can’t find.

        Only reason I bring this up is because it is obvious that the average american has no clue what is happening which is why I always say that our silence enables this nightmare.

        sadly, no donors other than a few green card applicants that are worried about their future have come forward, and one American that couldn’t afford it.

        So, even though I don’t want to do it, I made the decision yesterday to accept a janitor position at the local va hospital.

        I believe Mr. Matloff stated he has been doing this for over 25 years.
        I have been doing it via kaaw for 10 years now.

        I’m not willing to admit defeat.

        But at this point, I don’t know what to do, and I’m not getting any younger, and I’m not getting any calls for work.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps the Calvary has been outsourced? Seriously, I wonder why nobody does a serious study of what happens to those native programmers who are laid off, especially the older ones. I’m currently going to a job center and all of the older tech workers seem to have the same experience. They hear from various recruiters but they can’t buy an interview. Hmm, that gives me a business idea. Anyhow, it would seem that a researcher could at least question the workers at job centers. I suspect that they are seeing the same thing. Anyhow, is that Craig D’angelo article online? If so, can you provide a link to it?

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      • No longer have a computer

        Believe I posted a link under the video at vbierschwale on you tube

        I’m basically dead in the water and no money to buy another computer

        Sorry about that

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  2. What bank?

    It’s just a bit disingenuous, Norm, for you to implicitly complain that the EEOC isn’t telling you anything about their actions on this case, or more likely, the lack thereof, whilst you yourself are likewise being coy about the identity of the bank involved.

    Facts are facts, and even if all you can point to is your own informal survey of relevant LinkedIn profiles, those are facts, and you can’t be sued for merely offering the observation that Bank XYZ -appears- to have a marked and perhaps even a pervasive preference for hiring mostly or exclusively people of a certain ethnic background.

    Please name name the bank, let people do their own research… something that I, in particular, am pretty good at, even if I do say so myself… and then let the facts and the chips fall where they may. If you elect not to do so, then I have to wonder why. Are you afraid that the extreme Political Correctness wackos are gonna come to your house and throw rocks though your windows? (Actually, I wouldn’t blame you if you were indeed worried about that very thing. Davis, as a town, is a rather extreme and notorious example, in this area, of political correctness run amok, as a PC horror story, told to me just yesterday by a good friend of mine who goes there every day for work, viviidly illustrated. I won’t bore you with the whole story, but it certainly was an example of the kind of over-the-top insane PC attitudes that are prevalent in Davis, specifically.)

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    • I’ve been saying for years that this is standard behavior throughout the tech industry: Hire foreign students for most entry-level tech jobs, while hiring some Americans for the “talking jobs.” This bank is absolutely no exception. But I invite you to read my slides, linked to in my post.

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      • You’re still being unnecessarily coy Norm. I’ve just skimmed the first 70+ pages of your first 122 slide presentation linked to above, and I’ll be damned if I see the name of any specific bank there. (Maybe you hid the name inside a Special Edition of War & Peace?)

        I take your point that this is an industry-wide problem, but at some point you have to call a spade a spade, and call someone out, specifically, for possibly being dramatically biased -against- people who were born here or who have legal permanent resident status. Otherwise, what’s the point? Without that, you’re just howling at the moon, and at unseen/unspecified lawbreakers that nobody can do anything about.

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  3. I was employed for 9yrs and suddenly received a RiF (Reduction in Force) with 12 other employees (including the Director of Tech Support) soon after the company changed ownership. I landed a 6mo contract 3mo later and finished it last July and have been jobless since then despite an intensive job search and some F2F interviews. I’m not a millennial and suspect age discrimination is the reason for not getting offers. I’m also a military veteran but this isn’t enough to overcome the age factor.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always been of the mind that Government is inherently evil and must be contained like a poison that can help only in very rare cases.

    Sadly, I’ve just given up on the USA. I’m in the process of moving my company to Australia. Many of my employees are willing to emigrate, with a few unable but I’ll keep them on as most of our team works remote across the USA.

    Thank you for fighting the hard fight, but unfortunately I believe it’s too late, and this country will die of entropy. And within 75 years.

    Thank you again for all you do. I’ll update you on our progress as we put the self destructive mania behind us.

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  5. “one software engineer who brought a discrimination case to EEOC that they had informed him that as a white male, he was not eligible for EEOC protection.”

    Have to wonder, what will it take for EEOC or any federal agency to investigate discrimination against whites?

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  6. There are also cases where the person who’s witnessing discrimination doesn’t have whistleblower protection. Staff who’re interviewing, for example.

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  7. I used to work for a regional New York State bank which was taken over by HSBC. On merger day the new people were brought in mostly Chinese with a few white guys, who like you said spoke well. It was clear on day one that women and white people would be in short supply going forward. Then they used non English speaking staff in Hong Kong for the back end development and we were expected to work with them. The first week I picked up the phone and started looking for a new job.

    My wild guess is that the bank is HSBC. As far as the EEOC investigating, I doubt that will happen. These guys were caught red handed laundering money, in the billions, and got a slap on the wrist.

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  8. EEOC is worthless period. It is meant to protect the employers there is no such a thing as equal opportunity. I have personal experience with this. Unless you have an army of witnesses that saw someone raped you to cut off your hand off, you can pretty much take the EEOC charges and use it as toilet paper.

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  9. I received similiar non-enthusiastic feedback when I witnessed what appeared to be a clear, consistent, multi-year recruiting of Chinese H1B Visa holders. Over multiple years, not a single American was hired!

    The company CEO repeatedly boasted how we needed the brightest techical minds … to code in C++ and ISAPI???? Meanwhile, I played a role in our landing a college sophomore from the Ivy league who happened to be Vietnamese American. As a non techie, I had been begging and pleading for some basic additions to our web client. Given the chance, this youngster cracked open a programming book and wrote the needed code additions in a day or two. I think face may have been lost, and he was not inbited back the next summer.

    Like

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