Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cohen & Grigsby Pull H-1B Immigration-Gaming Videos Off YouTube After Protests From The Programmers Guild

A law firm's attempt to get positive exposure for an immigration law conference by posting it on YouTube backfired when an organization that's been tough on H-1B visas and offshore outsourcing copied it and made a controversial video of its own. Full story published in Information Week.

In the original video, posted by the firm Cohen & Grigsby from a May 15th, 2007 conference, and discussed HERE yesterday, attorney Lawrence Lebowitz is shown advising participants on how to legally manipulate the minimum requirements of advertising a job to American candidates so that a foreign worker can more easily be hired.

The firm's conference addressed the US government's labor certification requirement for foreign workers, the first step in helping them obtain green cards. The law requires that an employer prove there are no qualified U.S. citizens for a permanent job being offered before hiring a non-citizen. In one 10-minute segment of the conference video, a group of lawyers are shown discussing Program Electronic Review Management (PERM), an electronic labor certification system the government put in place two years ago to reduce certification to under 60 days. It was that portion of the video lambasted by the Programmers Guild, an organization of IT professionals opposed to the loss of American jobs to foreign workers both onshore and offshore.

The PERM process requires that an employer post a job in at least three places and allow 30 days for job candidates to respond for the employer to review resume. If no interested and qualified US workers respond, an employer can instantly and electronically apply for a foreign worker's labor certification.

In the video, a Cohen & Grigsby attorney advises participants that posting the job at an employer's website and with a local newspaper is usually enough to fill the minimum requirement, if the newspaper also posts the job online. Another attorney, Lawrence Lebowitz, adds, "We're going to try to find a place to advertise where we are complying with the law and hoping, and likely, not to find qualified and interested worker applicants." However, the "smoking gun" was the attorney's following statement:

"Our goal is clearly NOT TO FIND a qualified and interested U.S. worker."

The Programmers Guild immediately fired back. In its own YouTube video, which is posted below, they accuse the firm of using fake job ads to fulfill the PERM process. "These ads constitute fraud on American job seekers," says the organization in its text leading into the video.


Contacted at his Pittsburgh office the afternoon of June 18th, Lebowitz said he was reviewing the matter with other partners in the firm and declined comment. However, the law firm removed the conference video from YouTube sometime between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. EDT the same day.

Abuses of the H-1B program have previously been chronicled HERE and HERE.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06158/696169-28.stm

    Interview with Cohen & Grigsby founding partner at link above.

    Mentions some of the firms clients. A way to get a law firms attention is have the clients talk to them. Also it seems like City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are sometime clients. Surely a government entity wouldn't want a defrauding law firm representing them, right?

    "Q: Who are some current clients?

    A: Bayer Corp., Giant Eagle, Dietrich Industries, PNC Equity Management, Eat 'n Park, Industrial Scientific. We are also counsel for three major redevelopment projects proposed for Downtown."

    "Q: Is there a favorite case you've handled?

    A: I can't single out a personal favorite. A memorable, high profile accomplishment that made me very proud was our firm's representation of the county and the city in the so-called "Plan B" project for building the new stadium for the Steelers, new ballpark for the Pirates and massive additions and overhaul of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center."