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Jun
2013
25

Suit Claims Fiesta Shows’ H-2B Workers Were Forced Into 95-Hour Weeks, Paying for Their Own Travel

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A class action lawsuit is being brought forward by over 200 workers who allege they were victims of labor law and visa abuses while employed by carnival operator Fiesta Shows.  

The workers, working under H-2B visas, say they were paid a weekly flat wage for 40 hours of work while logging closer to 95 hours doing maintenance and tear down of amusement rides.  They were also put on the hook for visa acquisition and travel expenses, a clear violation of regulations pertaining to H-2B. The class action suit is being filed in Massachusetts, according to Shannon Lisa Riordan, a Boston attorney:

“This is particularly egregious.  These people were working when they got up to when they went to sleep.  When you do the math, it comes out to about $4 an hour, but because a lot of these workers are from other countries, they don’t expect anyone to take any action.  It takes the courage of a few to speak out.”

The lone named defendant in the case is Jorge Pillar Garcia of Vercruz, Mexico.  He worked for the company between March of 2010 and October of 2011.  Garcia alleges that he had to pay $500 for his visa as well as the cost of traveling through Mexico to the consulate and then to the border.

More from the New Hampshire Business Review:

According to a U.S. Department of Labor fact sheet, employers “must either advance all visa, border crossing, and visa-related expenses to H-2B workers, pay for them directly, or reimburse all such expenses in the first workweek.”

The H-2B program also requires that workers be paid the prevailing wage, which is stipulated in federal regulations.

According to federal records, the government granted the company applications for some 60 H-2B visas, at $354 a week in 2011, some 48 visas at $364 a week in 2012, and 40 visas at $8.83 an hour this year, though the federal government raised the 2013 prevailing wage rates at the end of May.

The complaint was filed in Suffolk (MA) Superior Court on Monday, but lawyers are looking into filing a similar lawsuit in New Hampshire for violations of that state’s labor laws.  Fiesta Shows operated at carnivals throughout New England.  

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