EEOC Sues to Vindicate Guest Workers’ Rights

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; [email protected]

EEOC Sues to Vindicate Guest Workers’ Rights

WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Signal International, a major Mississippi marine fabrication company, for its discrimination, segregation, and subjugation of hundreds of Indian guest workers after Hurricane Katrina.  The action is a major victory for Indian guest workers, who have fought for their labor rights since 2007.  Below is a statement from Emily Tulli, employment policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center:

“By filing its lawsuit against Signal International, the EEOC has rightly declared that employers cannot successfully use immigration law to hide abusive behavior. This is an important victory for all immigrant workers, who often suffer immoral and illegal behavior at the hands of employers. Exploiting the broken immigration system, these egregious employers use violence and retaliation to keep workers from asserting their rights.

“The lawsuit is a direct result of the heroic organizing efforts performed by Indian guestworkers who were held by Signal International, many of whom are members of the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity. By speaking out everywhere — from the so-called “man camps” where the workers were held, to the halls of Congress — these workers have shed light on the abusive behavior they and countless other guest workers endure at the hands of these bad-apple employers.

“The lawsuit also is yet another indication that Congress must act now to finally ensure that workers’ labor rights are not trumped by immigration law. Through passage of the POWER Act this session, Congress has the opportunity to send a message to exploitative employers and workers alike. The act would help ensure that the subjugation experienced by the Indian guest workers — and thousands of workers across our nation — will end, and we urge representatives to ensure that our basic workplace rights do not suffer at the hands of our broken immigration system.”

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