The SPLC filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of more than 350 Filipino teachers who were lured to teach in Louisiana public schools under the H-1B guest worker program and then cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars and forced into exploitive contracts. Nearly all the teachers had to borrow money to pay exorbitant recruiting fees. The recruiters referred them to private lenders who charged 3 to 5 percent interest per month.
Teachers were forced to pay additional fees after they had already made substantial financial investments that would not be returned. The recruiters confiscated their passports and visas until they paid. The teachers were also forced to sign away an additional 10 percent of the salaries they would earn during their second year of teaching. Teachers who resisted signing the contracts were threatened with being sent home and losing the thousands they had already paid.
The case went to trial in 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. A jury ordered labor recruiter Universal Placement International of Los Angeles and its owner and president, Lourdes Navarro, to pay $4.5 million to the teachers.