Louisiana Workers Kept In Slave Conditions, Lawsuit Claims

welder pipe fitter lawsuitNEW ORLEANS - A group of Filipino guest workers who allege in a lawsuit that their Louisiana-based employers subjected them to inhumane working and living conditions claim company officials have threatened some of them with deportation unless they drop the case.

A federal judge on Monday issued an order barring Grand Isle Shipyard Inc. and DNR-Offshore and Crewing Inc., a job-placement firm, from contacting any of the 20 workers who sued the companies. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt said there is no legitimate reason for the companies to communicate with the plaintiffs since they no longer work for them.

The workers' class-action lawsuit claims they were confined to cramped living quarters and forced to work long hours for substandard pay. Lawyers for the companies say the workers' claims are false and should be dismissed.

Several recruiting agencies that helped the workers secure visas also are named as defendants in the case.

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The suit claims Filipino laborers who worked as welders and pipefitters for Grand Isle Shipyard were "essentially imprisoned ... from the minute they set foot in Louisiana." Many lived on in a bunkhouse in Galliano or on a barge in Lafitte where six workers shared 10-foot-by-10-foot rooms and slept on mats instead of beds, according to the suit.

"Defendants closely monitored these living spaces to ensure that plaintiffs and other Filipino workers would not escape, or attempt to escape, defendants' employ," the suit says. "In the case of the Galliano bunkhouse, defendants went so far as to lock Plaintiffs inside the bunkhouse after (10 p.m.) and to set up security cameras outside the bunkhouse to discourage plaintiffs from attempting to escape."

The suit also claims the defendants refused to pay workers for all of the hours they worked and deducted an excessive amount from their paychecks for living expenses and work-related equipment.

"Because plaintiffs were foreign nationals working in an unfamiliar land, and because they entrusted defendants not only with both their visa status and their livelihood, they had no option but to bow to defendants' exploitative and unlawful employment practices," the suit alleges.

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Plaintiffs' attorney Joseph Peiffer said none of the 20 plaintiffs are still working for Grand Isle Shipyard, but they have secured visas to stay in the U.S. while the suit is pending. At least 100 other Filipino guest workers who have worked for Grand Isle Shipyard since 2007 could have claims against the companies if the case is certified as a class action, according to Peiffer.

"By the time this is all said and done, we're looking at tens of millions of dollars (in potential damages)," he said.

In a court filing Friday, plaintiffs' attorneys claim a DNR official warned a guest worker's wife earlier this month that her husband could be accused of job abandonment and deported. The official offered to waive the abandonment accusation, but only if her husband withdraws from the suit, the lawyers claim.

In response, DNR attorneys said the company "did nothing abusive" because it has a right under the laws of the Philippines to file a job-abandonment complaint against a worker.


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geocur3971

This is the act of the arch-conservative, REPUBLICAN corporate establishment. They have always felt that, even for America, the Emancipation Proclamation was ill-timed and, just perhaps, the wrong move for the nation, and that the enslavement of NON-WHITE PEOPLES was, well..., O.K.. That mentality has continually manifested itself over all of these intervening years. And, of course, the election of Mr. Obama to the presidency has exposed the nation -- and the world -- to the undeniable fact that their thinking remains ever present, and ever virulent.

June 19 2014 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
spotboyko

We are all becoming "slaves" to the government of the Democrats. Making us believe its the right way to spread the wealth is everyones wealth but those in the upper class. They dont even realize they are becoming slaves. Just what O planned. Wait if they stay in office you will longer have your own life they will control that for you from cradel to grave.

June 19 2014 at 2:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to spotboyko's comment
MVA

What an idiot you are spotboyko

June 19 2014 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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