More than three dozen immigrant workers have filed suit in federal court alleging that they were defrauded and exploited by more than a dozen companies and individuals involved in recruiting and employing workers in the U.S. hospitality industry.
According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, the 38 immigrants, mostly from the Philippines, but also from Indonesia, Belarus, Turkey and Jamaica, say that they were "holders of H-2B visas, which allow U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs," Courthouse News Service reports.
The workers allege that the employers and recruiters violated U.S. human trafficking laws. Among those named as defendants are Aramark, The Polo Club of Boca Raton Property Owners Association, a golf club, and the Foundation for Worldwide International Student Exchange.
The workers, who are seeking class-action status, claim that companies and individuals acting as recruiters, "fraudulently misrepresented to the Department of Labor that they needed more H-2B workers than actually needed."
Further, the workers say in the complaint, that upon arriving in the U.S. they were given different jobs than promised, and "were placed in filthy, unsecured, and totally bare trailer trucks that had no potable water, food, proper beds or even mattresses."
Among specific violations of U.S. human trafficking laws, the workers allege that some workers were illegally forced to pay visa fees, which employers are obliged to pay, and that recruiters misled the workers into believing that they were to work for one company but instead were sent to another employer not listed on their visas.
The workers are seeking unspecified damages to reimburse them for their labor and other costs, in addition to punitive damages, according to the complaint.
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