Immigrant workers hired to repair storm-damaged apartments in New Orleans were routinely cheated out of wages and subjected to forced labor while living in crowded and dilapidated employer-provided housing. The Southern Poverty Law Center, along with the Pro Bono Project and the National Employment Law Project, filed a federal lawsuit on the workers' behalf.
The workers were promised a wage of at least $500 a week and an apartment at the Audubon Pointe apartment complex they were repairing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They lived in storm-damaged apartments while working for an employer who they allege used threats of eviction and deportation to quell complaints of nonpayment.
The workers' complaint charged Audubon Communities Management LLC, its president at the time, Charles Rehyer, and Audubon-Algiers, LLC, with violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Victims of Trafficking Protection Act.