MALDEF SUES MICHIGAN COMPANIES FOR IMMIGRATION FRAUD AND LABOR VIOLATIONS
Companies fraudulently recruited immigrant workers and promised nonexistent employment
DETROIT, MI - Today, MALDEF filed suit in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan against Systems USA Inc. and Systems USA Consulting LLC for violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the Michigan "Minimum Wage Law." The companies recruited and enticed Mexican computer programmers to apply for nonexistent jobs, and systematically defrauded the federal government to obtain visas for those individuals by representing that they would be employing the programmers once they traveled to the United States. A copy of the complaint can be viewed here.
"Exploitation by employers occurs everywhere, and immigrant workers of all skill levels become targets of wrongdoers who rely on an assumption that immigrants will not step forward to protect their rights," stated Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF. "We are proud to represent Mr. Castellanos in standing up to challenge the unlawful practices involved here."
The suit is filed on behalf of Narciso Jose Alejandro Castellanos and others who were promised work as computer programmers by Systems USA Inc. and Systems USA Consulting LLC at an annual salary of $52,000. Systems USA Inc. sought and secured work visas for Castellanos and others that are only available when a foreign national is hired for a specific job and for a set period of time. In fact, the company had no jobavailable, but instead planned to contract Castellanos' employment to third party companies and profit from the placement.
Castellanos left his job in Mexico, separated from his family, and expended his own resources to travel to the United States, where he expected to receive the promised employment and compensation. Once in the U.S., Systems USA Inc. only sent Castellanos to interviews for employment with other companies, required him to report to Systems USA offices for the entire work day, and paid him next to nothing. Castellanos became reliant on Systems USA Inc. for basic shelter and safety as a result of his lack of resources and precarious legal position.
"The actions taken by the defendants in this case are despicable. Not only did they result in the workers leaving their families and jobs behind and spending money to travel, but also resulted in an indentured servitude of sorts from which these workers could not escape because their immigration status was so dependent on their continued relationship with the companies," stated Midwest Regional Counsel Alonzo Rivas.
MALDEF seeks damages and compensation for lost income, as well as emotional distress as a result of the misleading promises and fraudulent actions taken by Systems USA Inc. and Systems USA Consulting LLC.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.
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