Los Angeles jury awards $4.5 million to Filipino teachers


LOS ANGELES—A federal jury awarded $4.5 million to Filipino teachers who paid large fees to obtain US jobs through a placement agency.

Jurors on Monday found that Los Angeles-based Universal Placement International Inc. and its owner, Lourdes Navarro, failed to properly disclose the fees for the 350 teachers who were recruited for $40,000-a-year jobs in Louisiana, mostly in East Baton Rouge Parish.

The teachers arrived in the US between 2007 and 2009 under a federal program that grants worker permits to foreigners with special skills. Most went to the East Baton Rouge Parish, but others went to Caddo, Jefferson and other parishes and to state-run schools in New Orleans.

In 2010, the American Federation of Teachers, the law firm Covington and Burling LLC, and the Southern Poverty Law Center sued on behalf of some teachers who complained that before ever leaving the Philippines they had to borrow money to pay thousands of dollars charged by the company — as much as $16,000 in some cases. That’s five times the average annual household income in the country.

The class-action suit claimed that more unexpected fees and expensive legal entanglements followed once the teachers arrived in the United States. For example, contracts were required in which the teachers agreed to pay a percentage of their monthly income to Universal, along with fees for arranging housing.

Passports and visas were confiscated to ensure the fees would be paid, the lawsuit said.

The suit claimed the threat of huge debt and loss of their visas amounted to forced labor under a federal law against human trafficking passed by Congress in 2000.

After a two-week trial, jurors rejected the human trafficking arguments but found the recruiting agency had negligently misrepresented the fees and violated California laws governing employment agencies and unfair business acts, attorneys for both sides said.

“The jury sent a clear message that exploitative and abusive business practices involving federal guest workers will not be tolerated,” Mary Bauer, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement.

Don A. Hernandez, a lawyer who represented the company, said there was no intentional wrongdoing by his client regarding disclosure of fees. He called the lawsuit a “witch hunt.”

“These teachers voluntarily took on whatever debt they did to pay the fees to come to the United States. They were not forced, the jury found,” he said.

Hernandez said he would seek to have the award figure reduced because the Louisiana Workforce Commission earlier awarded return of the same fees.

A judge earlier dismissed the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board as a defendant in the case.

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  • Pauline

    Good News!!! 255 percent growth!!! wow!!!

    and the west is stagnating and in a recession haha!

  • generalproblem

    mga lahing pinoy din yata yung recruiter.

  • Serom

    This is some positive news for our workers abroad.  Yeah, the recruiter sounds like a Filipino.  Illegal recruitment trade here, she wants to practice in foreign lands at the expense of her compatriots.

    • kanoy

      haha I should say she sounds like a VERY WELL KNOWN FILIPINO….why is she still licensed here???
      10 Pinoy teachers win case vs. recruiters


      Hernandez said he would seek to have the award figure reduced because the Louisiana Workforce Commission earlier awarded return of the same fees

      According to a news release issued by Les Landon, Director of Public Relations of the Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT), aside from the $1.8-M penalty, Lourdes “Lulu" Navarro was also ordered to pay $500 fine and $7,500 in attorney fees.

      • kanoy

         don’t try and sidestep the issue with nonsense here brain child explain yourself enlighten us,,,what is an imperialist?
        Genocide? explain what that word means? i never heard that word, what is genocide?

  • joboni96

    mabuhay kayo

    invest in philippine development
    ng dito na umasenso

    • kanoy

       in Manilla WW2 ended yesterday…..just take a look…..QC & Makati business area upgraded….some…but Manilla uh uhhhh

      • joboni96

        best to forget
        u.s. imperialist many sins
        and genocide
        then brainwashing

        ng makaisa na naman
        ang imperyalistang u.s.

        philippines as bases regained
        in another imperialist u.s. – intsik switik war

        hindi na natuto

        unggoy nga napapaso

      • kanoy


        i hate to inform you but

        the us never bombed Manila

        although if you had stayed in school
        your history teacher would have taught you that Manilla
        was the 2nd most bombed city during WW2
        Berlin was #1

        Berlin today is one of the most modern
        Manilla looks like WW2 ended yesterday,,,still are using the same water lines and sewers so small the rats have to bend over to walk in
        which is why Manilla still floods
        even Nagasaki/Hiroshima where leveled with nukes
        beautiful modern today
        Imperialist? explain what that word means? i never heard that word, what is an imperialist?
        Genocide? explain what that word means? i never heard that word, what is genocide?

      • joboni96

        hehehe the u.s. mythologist

        tuta pagaralan mo nga how
        the u.s. destroyed manila
        flushing out the japanese rearguard in 1945

        it was the imperialist u.s. that destroyed manila
        not the retreating japs given no retreat route

        just to save face for
        i shall return
        atakbo sa australia makartur

        warsaw was no. 1 daw

        wala kasi sa u.s. mythology ang
        imperyalistang genocide

  • delpillar

    ILLEGAL talaga sa almost all countries in the world ang sistema ng placement agency and POEA sa Pilipinas. Almost close to Human Trafficking and Slavery ang pagpapahirap sa mga applicants sa Pilipinas who would like to work abroad.

    Almost all countries na alam ko, walang hina-yu-pak na POEA agency-like na kakutsaba ng mga recruitment agencies na sumisingil ng sangkatutak na placement fee.
    In the USA, China, Japan, Singapore, Korea etc, imbes na ang applicants ang magbayad ng placement fee ay baliktad,  the RECRUITMENT AGENCY (Headhunter) ang nagbabayad ng pabuya sa successful applicants for choosing the company that they introduced.
    Yung mga applicants like from India, Myanmar, Vietnam, kapag sila ay iha-hire ng companies from USA, Japan etc, their government is the recruitment agency. No fees collected. Kung trhough TATA Consulting agency or other head-hunting companies (in India) naman pinapadaan ng mga companies from USA, TATA take good care of the applicants and those successful applicants ay nibe-baby sit pa para di na magbago ang isip at tuloy na ang alis papuntang America.
    Sa Pilipinas BALIKTAD.
    Binabayaran na ang mga recruitment agencies ng foreign companies na magrecruit and maghire ng Filipino then at the same time, ni-cha-charge nila yung mga applicants ng application fee, then yung successful applicants ay sisingilin ng processing fee worth 60,000 pesos pataas.
    DOBLE PERA ang hangad ng mga recruitment agencies sa Pilipinas.
    Then technically and other screening ay pasado na….. ang REKLAMO ng mga FOREIGN COMPANIES lalo na yung gustong maghire ng IT Engineers and Seamen ay napaka-arsehole ang procedures na pinagagawa ng POEA both in the applicants and the foreign hiring companies.

    • yonoh

       maraming ganyan mga recruitment agency bayad ka na ng employer mo sisingilin ka pa nila………..extra kita  yong iba papautangin ka may sarili na silang pautangan sa loob ng agency tapos sobrang laki ang tubo……………kawawa ang mga pinoy………….

  • Rosauro

    This is what I may say American justice that it will not rust in suspense like what is happening in our justice system. A case at point is the Maguindanao massacre that it is now rusting in court for over three years. For what evidence yet our court is searching for when there are documented objective evidences to consider by the court?  

    • yonoh

       padulas ang inaantay…………..ibig sabihin pera………………..

  • Rosauro

    I have been an QFW

  • Rosauro

    I have been an OFW since 1974 and I observed that those who put our situation in miserable way is only our own fellow Filipinos. One example in one country I was assigned, not to mention the country anymore, the government of the host country was offering high monthly pay to our nurses; however, some embassy staff refuted the offer because the offer was higher than they received from our government, and so it affects the negotiation.

    • kanoy

       There the same repetitious statement is once again….as i said…OFW after OFW says the same thing basically,,,,,they would rather work for, with or under anyone…..except another filipino….for as has been pointed out,,,the OFW don’t want to be the best person in the world thats not their ambition…just the best filipino in the world…so any filipino above them is despised so they do their best to drag them down below them

  • JK1000

    Ako sabi kaibigan sa U.S. kapag ikaw trabaho sa kapwa filipino,ikaw lagi talo. filipino sabi kaibigan ko ay sila-sila loko kapwa filipino. Dami filipino may ari ng boarding care sabi friend ko, kapag isa filipino wala papel, huyyyy ! yan faborito nila dahil puede takutin, loko suweldo, baba suweldo, wala bayad overtime.  Sabi Instik, ” Iba filipino una sa utak kung pano sila lamang kapwa tao, Kapag tao lagi loko kapwa tao yan dala malas sa buhay”

    • pasaway008ako

      Kaya sila habla na para sila bayad ng milyon dolar na, tulad ng nangyari dito, ha kabise.

  • pasaway008ako

    Lahat na alng ng comment dito ‘flag as inappropriate’.

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