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Sun accuser suffers setback

A Labor Department judge throws out evidence from a former Sun Microsystems worker who claims Sun illegally laid off U.S. citizens while retaining foreign workers on temporary visas.

SAN FRANCISCO--The judge in a Labor Department case involving Sun Microsystems threw out much of the evidence submitted by a former employee who claims Sun illegally laid off U.S. citizens while retaining foreigners working under temporary, H1-B visas.

In an administrative law hearing stemming from ex-employee Guy Santiglia's appeal of an earlier ruling by the Labor Department, Judge Jennifer Gee found Tuesday that a variety of documents submitted by Santiglia were not admissible. Gee cited various reasons, including a lack of authentication.

In last October's ruling involving Santiglia's accusation that Sun violated regulations of the H-1B guest worker program, the department concluded that the company committed only minor mistakes, failing in three instances to properly post notice of its application for the right to hire H-1B workers.

Santiglia, a system administrator laid off by Sun in November of 2001, has the company of violations including harming the working conditions of U.S. employees with guest workers, failing to properly post notices in the workplace, and failing to provide proper access to public documents.

Sun rejects Santiglia's charges as meritless. Other federal agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice, have dismissed claims against Sun by Santiglia.

The H-1B visa lets skilled foreign workers work in the United States for up to six years. Santiglia's complaint focuses on a part of the process of securing an H-1B visa. That part of the process, called the labor condition application, or LCA, requires employers to describe the salary that will be paid to a given guest worker and to testify that use of the H-1B won't harm working conditions of a U.S. employee in a comparable work role. Employers don't have to hire the H-1B worker referred to on an LCA, but they must provide notice of the LCA to their existing employees.

To support his appeal of the Labor Department ruling, Santiglia presented the court with print outs of e-mails from former Sun workers saying they did not see workplace notices of LCAs. Santiglia also offered an e-mail from a former Sun worker who said Sun managers told him H-1Bs were preferable as new hires because "most local candidates wanted too much money."

When Sun's attorney objected to the e-mails, Judge Gee excluded them. She said Santiglia hadn't proved they were authentic.

"Where there's an objection, I've got to get it authenticated," Gee said.

Gee also threw out data Santiglia said he received from the Labor Department about Sun's LCAs. She said columns on the data weren't clearly labeled and it wasn't authenticated.

The hearing came to a close Tuesday. Gee has 60 days to issue a ruling on Santiglia's appeal.

Santiglia was glad to have his day in court. But he said he felt the "scales are tipped against you" if you're an individual opposing a corporation.

"I'm not so hopeful," Santiglia said.