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A multinational software company is suing the U.S. Labor Department for refusing to allow the firm to hire a foreign worker, in a dispute that features as its centerpiece a job posting on Monster.com that put the salary of the position at less than $1.00.

Chesterfield, Missouri-based Amdocs Inc. filed a lawsuit last week against the Labor Department in Washington’s federal trial court for the agency’s refusal to approve a “labor certification application.” That certification allows a company to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the U.S.

The company filed for the certification in 2011 to hire a “development group leader.” Part of the process required the company show the job would be available to any would-be U.S. worker and so it posted the job on Monster.com, the third-party job recruiting website.

In that posting, the salary was listed for under between “$0.00 and $1.00.”  Because of that salary level, labor regulators rejected the certification application from Amdocs. Amdocs said that the salary in the labor certification application itself was identified at between $77,834 and $87,000. 

Amdocs, represented by New York’s Barst Mukamal & Kleiner, alleged the salary range in the Monster.com job posting was a placeholder and that no reasonable person would believe the compensation would be that low. The company’s lawyers claimed that nobody from Amdocs asked for the salary to be placed that low on Monster.com.

An administrative law judge panel in June, six years after the original application was filed, agreed with the denial of the certification because of the low salary listing. The panel, pointing to a decision by a Labor Department certification officer, wrote: “[R]egardless of how the error occurred, the employer was ultimately responsible for ensuring the content of its recruitment complied with all the regulatory standards.”

The labor panel said the DOL’s Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals has held that “even slight misrepresentations as to the salary of a position” can violate U.S. labor regulations.

“Moreover, though it is unclear what precise effect the misreported wages had on recruitment, we are unwilling to accept the employer’s contention that the misrepresentation had no effect,” the labor panel said in its ruling.

Amdocs calls the decision in the lawsuit to deny the certification “arbitrary and capricious.”

“Without authorization from plaintiff, Monster.com inserted a default wage range of $0.00 to $1.00 per hour into that published job posting content. Defendant’s denial of Amdocs’ labor certification application results from Monster’s unauthorized default wage range,” according to the lawsuit.

It goes on to say: “Plaintiff did not confirm salary information with or otherwise provide such information to Monster.com or any intermediary when arranging to place the job posting. When published on the internet, Monster.com, without authorization, published a salary range of $0.00 to $1.00 in the job description content visible to the public.The $0.00 to $1.00 per hour was a default wage entry made unilaterally by a Monster.com administrator.”

The lawsuit asks a Washington judge to overturn the Labor Department’s determination that Amdocs’s recruitment effort violated U.S. regulations, and the company said it wants its labor certification application granted.

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Erin Mulvaney covers labor and employment issues from the Swamp to Silicon Valley. She’s a Texas native based in Washington, D.C. Contact her at emulvaney@alm.com. On Twitter: @erinmulvaney

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