The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued an employer that it accuses of mistreating workers from India and Thailand. The EEOC was suing on behalf of more than 500 workers who were recruited from India to work at shipyards in Texas and Mississippi as well as more than 200 workers from Thailand recruited to work at farms in Hawaii and Washington, according to Reuters.
The EEOC basically accuses the people who recruited and employed the workers from Asia of human trafficking. Even though the workers had work visas and were paid decent wages, they were forced to pay recruitment fees and pay for housing and food so that they were basically indentured servants making no money.
The workers from Thailand were recruited by a labor firm based in Beverly Hills, Global Horizons Inc. The company recruited the workers from Thailand between 2003 and 2007. The recruitment fees charged of the workers were between $12,000 and $25,000. The farm laborers earned $8.50 to $9.50 an hour.
The head of the Beverly Hills labor firm also faces criminal charges for alleged labor conspiracy. He disputes that the foreign workers were living in squalid or crowded conditions or that their pay was unfair.
The EEOC says that the company confiscated the workers' passports, and that the company told the foreign workers they would be deported if they complained about the conditions of their employment. The EEOC says that all workers from other countries have the right to be treated the same as American workers while in the U.S. and not as "second-class citizens."