The investigation began after a former employee filed a complaint accusing Sun of discriminating against American workers in favor of non-citizens with H1-B visas.
Former employee Guy Santiglia, who was laid off last year along with nearly 4,000 other workers, filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice and also with the U.S. Department of Labor. He refused to give a statement to the Chronicle but said that the government has been investigating Sun's potentially discriminatory hiring practices since March.
Both the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor declined to comment.
Diane Carlini, a Sun spokeswoman, told the Chronicle that Sun is cooperating in the investigation and denied Santiglia's accusations. "[Citizenship] is not a criterion for hiring or firing. [Santiglia] is basically saying we should have found him a job because he is a citizen, and that in itself is discriminatory."
Santiglia contends that despite the layoffs, Sun continues to apply for visas for its foreign employees.
He was quoted in the Chronicle saying, "To me it is crazy that they can apply for thousands of visas in 2001 and lay off 4,000 workers."
Carlini also told the Chronicle that about 5 percent of Sun's 39,000 employees have temporary work visas. She added that Sun applies for visas for employees whose temporary visas are expiring, or in anticipation of hiring foreign workers.
According to the Chronicle, the Department of Labor said that before visas are granted, employers must prove that there are no citizens who could fill the positions of foreign employees. However, employers cannot terminate foreign workers based on their immigration status.
Read more about this story in the San Francisco Chronicle.
federal government is investigating the hiring practices of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.