On April 20, 2011, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Signal International, LLC for abusing hundreds of foreign guestworkers from India lured to work in the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina.
The EEOC lawsuit charges that the marine services company violated federal law by subjecting the class of approximately 500 Indian employees to labor trafficking and a hostile work environment. The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that Signal subjected the Indian employees as a class to abuse based on national origin (Indian) and/or race (South Asian). The agency charged Signal with disparate, discriminatory treatment concerning the workers’ terms and conditions of employment, and with forcing the men to live in segregated labor camps. On January 24, 2012, the Court granted a motion to intervene filed by a subset of named plaintiffs in David, et al. v. Signal International, LLC, et al. Following the decision granting the motion to intervene, Plaintiff-Intervenors filed a complaint in intervention. The ACLU is co-counsel in EEOC v. Signal International, LLC with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Louisiana Justice Institute, and Crowell & Moring LLP.
The EEOC lawsuit reinforces claims brought by ACLU and the above co-counsel in David, et al. v. Signal International, LLC, et al., a lawsuit on behalf of close to 500 guestworkers from India trafficked into the U.S. through the federal government's H-2B guestworker program. The suit charges the Indian guestworkers were given dishonest assurances of becoming lawful permanent U.S. residents and subjected to squalid living conditions, fraudulent payment practices, and threats of serious harm upon their arrival. In addition to the federal court litigation, in partnership with the ACLU, the workers have testified before the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and senior staff at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.