"A jury ordered a labor recruiting firm and its owner Monday to pay $4.5 million to 350 Filipino teachers they lured to teach in Louisiana public schools and forced into exploitive contracts after arriving in the United States through the federal guestworker program.
Universal Placement International of Los Angeles and its owner and president, Lourdes Navarro, were ordered to pay the damages following a two-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles.
“The jury sent a clear message that exploitive and abusive business practices involving federal guestworkers will not be tolerated,” said SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer. “This decision puts unscrupulous recruitment agencies on notice that human beings – regardless of citizenship status – cannot be forced into contracts that require them to pay illegal fees.”
The verdict came in a federal class action lawsuit, Nunag Tanedo v. East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, brought on behalf of the teachers in August 2010. The teachers are represented by the SPLC, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP.
The teachers began arriving in the United States in 2007 as part of the H-1B guestworker program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor." - SPLC, Dec. 18, 2012.