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18 Feb 2015

American Civil Liberties Union

Federal jury awards $14 million to Indian guest workers victimized in labor trafficking scheme by Gulf coast shipyard & its agents

…After a four-week trial…the jury ruled that Signal…[a] New Orleans lawyer…and [an] India-based recruiter…engaged in labor trafficking, fraud, racketeering and discrimination. The jury also found that one of the five plaintiffs was a victim of false imprisonment and retaliation…Together, the H-2B visa [guest worker] status, the high debt, the poor conditions at the labor camp and the discriminatory treatment and disparagement based on their race or nationality led the men to feel trapped…When some men tried to find their own housing, Signal officials told them the “man camp” fee would still be deducted from their pay. Visitors were rarely allowed into the camps. Company employees searched workers’ belongings. And workers who complained were threatened with deportation – a disastrous prospect for those who mortgaged their futures to obtain the jobs…