A group of Indian marine construction workers who were taken to the United States in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the promise of good jobs and US residency but were exploited by their employer has won a £12 million lawsuit against the company, Signal International.
The nearly 200 workers sued Alabama-based Signal International for breach of contract as well as exploitation and trafficking.
The company will also issue an apology to the Indian welders, pipe-fitters and other workers specializing in marine construction.
They had been brought over to Louisiana to work on a number of damaged oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
The workers told the court in New Orleans that they had paid a recruitment company between $10,000 and $20,000 (£6000 – £12,000) each in fees and costs in return for securing jobs as well as US green cards and residency for them and their families.
Most had to sell family property and ran into huge debts.
However, when the men arrived from India in 2006, they discovered that they would not receive the green cards or permanent residency that had been promised.
The company also allegedly forced them each to pay US $ 1,050 a month to live in “isolated, guarded labor camps” where as many as 24 men were cramped in small rooms while none of the company’s non-Indian workers were required to live in the company housing.