class action lawsuit filed on behalf of exploited filipino teachers

Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of guestworkers lured from the Philippines to teach in Louisiana public schools, and cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars and forced into exploitative contracts: Mairi Nunag-TaƱedo et al. v. East Baton Rouge Parish School Board et al..
A federal class action lawsuit was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of more than 350 Filipino teachers working in Louisiana under the federal H-1B guestworker program.

The suit accuses officials of two labor contractors – Universal Placement International, based in Los Angeles, and its sister organization, Manila-based PARS International Placement Agency – of human trafficking, racketeering and fraud. The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, several school officials and a California lawyer were also named as defendants.

Nearly all the teachers had to borrow money to pay exorbitant recruiting fees; the recruiters referred them to private lenders who charged 3 to 5 percent interest per month. Teachers were forced to pay additional fees after they had already made substantial financial investments that would not be returned. The recruiters confiscated their passports and visas until they paid.

The teachers were also forced to sign away an additional 10 percent of the salaries they would earn during their second year of teaching. Teachers who resisted signing the contracts were threatened with being sent home and losing the thousands they had already paid. The recruiters also charged fees for arranging substandard housing and threatened teachers who complained or sought to move to a new location.
Public schools across America are increasingly turning to the H-1B guestworker program to fill teaching positions. It's certainly no surprise -- almost inevitable, really -- that someone would abuse the system to dream up one fraudulent scheme or another. More here: SPLC Fights for Guestworker Teachers Defrauded in International Labor Trafficking Scheme.

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