NEW YORK, NY — Rudell & Associates, Inc. owned by Rodolfo Quiambao, former 2004 Grand Marshal of the Philippine Independence Council Inc. (PIDCI), faces the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) at a hearing set for June 19, 2013 regarding H-1B labor condition violations. USDOL Administrative Law Judge Lystra Harris ordered on Feb. 19 Rudell & Associates, Rodolfo Quiambao, the Administrator of the New York State Department of Labor’s (NYSDOL) Wage and Hour Division, and 21 former H-1B employees of Rudell to immediately commence discovery proceedings and to prepare for hearing.
Rudell & Associates is an engineering firm based in Long Island City, which sponsored and employed Filipino engineers to work as H-1B engineering design drafters. Several of them were assigned to Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) , a power and gas provider, where Rudell had a contract.
In February 2011, according to a media report, Rudell placed them on a forced unpaid leave and terminated them thereafter as a result of Rudell’s involvement in a bribery case with ConEd.
Sassine Razzouk, Con-Edison’s manager, was criminally indicted for allegedly taking $4,000,000 in kickbacks from Rudell & Associates in exchange for engineering contracts.
Twenty-one of the employees filed H-1B complaints with the NYSDOL’s Wage and Hour Division. They alleged that Rudell did not pay them the prevailing H-1B wage rates and that illegal deductions were made from their paychecks to cover for immigration filing fees and lawyers’ fees, which should have been the responsibility of Rudell. The employees likewise alleged that there was no bonafide termination of their H-1B employment. Thus, they claimed back wages for the duration of the validity period of their H-1B status.
After two years of investigating, the H-1B complaints filed by the 21 former Rudell employees, on January 15, 2013, the Administrator of the NYSDOL’s Wage and Hour Division issued its determination.
The Administrator’s determination found Rudell& Associates and its owner, Rodolfo Quiambao, of willfully failing to pay the wages of its H-1B employees in violation of 20 CFR 655.731. The Administrator assessed Rudell and Quiambao to pay the NYS Department of Labor the amount of $176,400 as civil money penalty, and ordered them to pay 50 H-1B nonimmigrants back wages in the amount of $295,540.97.
In addition, although no civil money penalty was assessed, Rudell and Quiambao were ordered to comply with 20 C.F.R. 655.734 “in the future and to post notice of the filing of the LCA filing for 10 days in two conspicuous locations at each place of employment where any H-1B non-immigrant will be employed.”
This reporter contacted Tejash Sanchala, Rudell’s lawyer, for comments. All calls and emails were not responded to. Although Quiambao returned the call and told this reporter that his lawyer was responding to our request, no response was received.
Meanwhile, Felix Vinluan, civil rights lawyer who is representing the 21 former Rudell employees, said all parties to the case must have requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge after the NYSDOL Administrator issued its January 15, 2013 determination.