If you are thinking about all your problems with your H-1B employer, and want to tell the world- or, tell Facebook, listservs, and/or Desi message boards- you should think twice and count to ten before posting.

It is understandable to feel highly frustrated by an H-1B employer who has benched you, underpaid your wages, unlawfully required you to pay filing fees, and/or committed frauds against you.

But don’t let your frustration cause you to make careless postings of public information about all the hurt and anger you feel, and all the details and opinions on your mind.  Once you post specific identifying information (H-1B employer’s name) and alleged conduct, you are crossing into a threshold where negative consequences can occur.

When people are hurt, they tend to communicate in an emotional, and often counterproductive, manner.  For example, it’s common to see message-board posts by underpaid H-1B workers saying something like this: “[EMPLOYER NAME] BENCHED ME FOR 6 MONTHS WITH NO PAY- THEY ARE NOTHING BUT SCAM ARTISTS- DON’T WORK THERE UNLESS YOU WANT TO LIVE A NIGHTMARE!!!”

The core fact this message conveys is this: the H-1B worker was benched and lost six months’ wages.  But the rest of the information is unnecessary, emotional and subjective– fightin’ words, so to speak.

These sorts of words can make their targets angry.  In some instances, an H-1B employer could accuse a message-board poster of making false statements, and could bring a lawsuit for defamation against the poster.  Here are several examples of defamation lawsuits brought by parties who were badmouthed online.

There is no use for fightin’ words in the legal world: the facts are what matter, e.g. facts about an H-1B worker’s unpaid wages and benching.

And the facts only matter if they are communicated to the right place: to an attorney, to a legal decision-maker, or to someone else who can help.

Information that is posted on messages boards and the like is posted to everyone- to some people who could possibly help you, but also to some who could possibly hurt you.

If the H-1B employer reads negative information and details that you post about the employer, the employer could decide to make an issue, or a lawsuit, out of your post.  The legal focus could shift from the core issue (unpaid wages, fraud, etc.) to the issue of the comments you posted about the employer, and whether they were necessary, professional, or true.

Yes, truth is a defense to a defamation claim.  But no defense is guaranteed.   And even if you had a winning defense to a defamation claim, you would still have to pay for defending yourself in court, in all likelihood, if a lawsuit were filed.  The best plan is to avoid the risk altogether, and not make negative message board posts in the first place.

If you want to fight an H-1B employer, make sure the fight is in the right forum (e.g. communicated via an attorney or legal proceeding, not via a message board), and fight with the facts rather than emotional adjectives or opinions.  If a party is talking about “nightmares” and the like on message boards, that party runs the risk that in later legal proceedings the party may be viewed as unprofessional or not credible, even if they are in the right.

Additional Information

To learn more about H-1B rights and options, please see these posts:

For information about H-1B Rights & Immigration Rights Attorneys Michael F. Brown and Vonda K. Vandaveer, please visit here.

This blog is authored by Employee and H-1B Rights Attorney Michael Brown of the law firm of Peterson, Berk & Cross, and Immigration Attorney Vonda K. Vandaveerof the law firm V.K. Vandaveer, P.L.L.C.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is NOT legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between you and the attorneys or law firms above. Legal advice often varies among situations. If you want legal advice for your specific circumstances, you must consult with an attorney.

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