Courts side with guest workers in exploitation schemes

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Guest worker programs have long been shadowed by middlemen: the brokers, recruiters and labor contractors who serve as a bridge between workers abroad and employers in the U.S. While some charge a reasonable fee to deliver necessary services, exploitation is prevalent.

Several court cases have taken down unscrupulous guest worker schemes. Among them:

  • In 2012, a federal jury awarded $4.5 million to Filipino teachers who paid a California placement agency up to $16,000 for $40,000-a-year teaching positions in Louisiana public schools. A jury found that the recruiter failed to properly disclose fees to 350 teachers.
  • A 2011 settlement required the public school district in Maryland’s Prince George’s County to reimburse Filipino teachers $4 million, after a U.S. Labor Department investigation. The investigation found that the district required 1,000 teachers it hired to pay H-1B visa and other fees the school system should have handled.
  • In 2004, the superintendent of an El Paso, Texas, school district was indicted in federal court on racketeering charges in a scheme to hire Filipino teachers on behalf of a recruiter who charged the teachers excessively high fees. Many of the jobs never materialized. The superintendent pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of failing to report gifts to a public official.