The New York Times is reporting that Toys 'R' Us used the H-1B program to bring in temporary foreign-workers to watch and learn from employees before laying off the American workers and moving the jobs to India.
According to the report, the H-1B workers shadowed Toys 'R' Us employees and created manuals for their jobs. One American accountant who had been with the company for almost 15 years said, "She just pulled up a chair in front of my computer. She shadowed me everywhere, even to the ladies' room."
By June, the temporary workers had created manuals for the jobs of 67 people, mostly in accounting. Then the workers returned to India to train people to perform those jobs in India. The American employees were then laid off, including some that had been with the company for more than a decade.
The H1-B visa program was created to help companies bring in foreign workers with "highly specialized knowledge" to meet needs for particular skills where no American workers are available. Yet the workers brought in for Toys 'R' Us did not appear to have any highly specialized knowledge, their expertise was in observing and mapping what the American workers did.
The New York Life Insurance Company is also beginning a similar process to outsource American jobs overseas and using H1-B and L1-B visa programs to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to be trained by their American employees.
One New York Life accountant said a worker from India made an exact digital "recording" during the day as he performed his job. The recording was then transmitted to India, where workers practiced mimicking his tasks.
"It's all just repeating exactly what we have been doing," he said.
The employees at both companies were told to cooperate with the foreign workers as a condition of receiving their severance pay.
The companies say they are not breaking any immigration laws. Toys 'R' Us spokeswoman, Kathleen Waugh, said the layoffs was part of "designing a streamlined, more efficient global organization to make it fit for growth." She also noted that the outsourcing "resulted in significant cost savings."
Some experts such as Christine Brigagliano, a lawyer in San Francisco with extensive experience advising American companies on obtaining visas, claim that these actions violate the "spirt of the law". "Those contractors are signing on the bottom line, saying we will not undercut the wages and working conditions of Americans. But, in fact, they are."
Read more at The New York Times.
Updated: Thu, Oct 15th 2015 @ 2:25pm EDT