Daniel Castellanos-Contreras, et al. v. Decatur Hotels, LLC et al.
H-2B guest workers traveled to the United States from their home countries of Bolivia, Peru, and the Dominican Republic to perform guest services, housekeeping, maintenance, and other essential support functions in the hotel operations of the Defendants. Like thousands of other migrant laborers who have been lured to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the workers in this case left their homes and families based on false promises of high earnings, stable jobs, and good living conditions.
In order to obtain the positions with the Defendants, the workers paid exorbitant sums of money, typically between $3,500 and $5,000, for travel, visa, and recruitment fees, as well as other costs associated with the workers' trips to the U.S. The Defendants' failure to reimburse the workers' money in their first week of work was a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and, as a result, the workers earned substantially less than the minimum wage in their first week of work.
As a part of the application for obtaining certification to bring H-2B guestworkers to the United States, the Defendants certified to the U.S. government "qualified persons in the United States are not available" to fill the jobs. The Defendants made this assertion despite the fact that local U.S. workers, mostly African Americans, had previously worked in this industry in New Orleans and were available to do so again.