Man Claims Labor Exploiter Did it Again
MANHATTAN (CN) - A recidivist labor recruiter who bilked immigrants of millions of dollars flouted a court order, with help from her wealthy husband, by holding a Filipino in "indentured servitude," the man claims in court.
Lester Lee Javier, a physical therapy aide, sued Marissa Teves Beck, her husband Henry Beck and six of their companies in Federal Court.
Javier accuses them of RICO violations, human trafficking, labor law violations and other charges.
"Marissa Teves Beck is a recruiter with an ugly track record of illegally abusing and mistreating non-immigrant workers," the complaint states. "In 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a determination letter finding that she and a company she controlled had cheated employees out of almost $3 million in wages. The Department of Labor also determined that Mrs. Beck had threatened employees with lawsuits and loss of their legal status - and actually commenced lawsuits against them - when they complained of her illegal conduct.
"In 2009, this court entered a permanent injunction against Mrs. Beck prohibiting her and her company from future violations of the FLSA's overtime and recordkeeping provisions. She was also ordered to advise employees of their rights under the FLSA, in particular their right to engage in protected activity without fear of retaliation."
"Non-immigrant worker" does not mean that a worker is not an immigrant; it means he or she does not seek to immigrate permanently to the United States.
The Department of Labor announced in April 2009 that Beck had agreed to pay 247 current and former employees $211,120 in back wages and interest to resolve the lawsuit.
But Javier says in his complaint: "Despite having been caught by the government in 2008 and enjoined by this Court in 2009, Mrs. Beck has continued her illegal activity and willfully violated this court's permanent injunction. She has done this by hiding behind the perceived legitimacy of her husband, Henry R. Beck - a Vice President with The Corcoran Group - and by using a web of corporate entities purportedly run by her husband, but actually managed and controlled by Mrs. Beck herself."
Those entities are defendants Oasis Professional Management Group Inc., Advanced Professional Marketing Inc., Grill 211 LLC, Pan De Sal LLC and Gramercy Group Four LLC, according to the complaint.
Javier claims he is "one of the victims of the Becks' illegal and abusive treatment of non-immigrant workers."
Called for comment at Advanced Professional Marketing, Marissa Beck bristled at the allegations.
"This is totally wrong," she told Courthouse News on Thursday. "I am not that kind of person."
Beck told Courthouse News she had not yet been served with the complaint. She said she had treated Javier well -giving him a place to stay when he met her, and all of his vacation and sick days when he left.
In his complaint, Javier claims the Becks paid him less than half the prevailing wage, refused to pay him overtime, illegally charged him thousands of dollars in fees for an H-1B visa application and kept him from asserting his rights by threatening to withdraw that application.
Though he is not filing as a class action, Javier claims that his "mistreatment ... is not an isolated incident, but part of a much larger and continuous illegal enterprise."
"For years, the Becks have engaged in an illegal scheme involving immigration fraud, perjury, extortion, willful violations of this court's permanent injunction, mail fraud, wire fraud, and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) affecting hundreds of non-immigrant employees," the complaint states.
The Becks and their companies have filed "more than 750 applications for H-1B visas since 2001, and many of those applications have been based on the Becks' willfully false and fraudulent submissions to the government," Javier says in the complaint.
"Treating employees like their personal property, the Becks use employees at different companies depending on their personal wishes and needs. For example, when the Becks did not have enough work for plaintiff as a Physical Therapy Rehab Manager or Physical Therapy Aide, they refused to pay him. To earn a living, he had no choice but to work as a dishwasher, delivery boy, and cook at one the Becks' restaurants, defendant Grill 21, for only $9 per hour. Plaintiff also worked as a Physical Therapy Aide for defendant Advanced Professional Marketing, Inc., also for only $9 per hour," according to the complaint.
Indignant at that charge, Marissa Beck told Courthouse News that Javier did not pass his physical therapy exam, did not have a license, and "begged me to be a dishwasher in my restaurant!"
Javier's complaint continues: "Disregarding corporate forms and formalities, the Becks dominate the corporate defendants to cheat non-immigrant workers out of their wages, overtime payments, and contractual rights to legitimate immigration assistance. The Becks' continuous fraudulent and illegal conduct includes creating and maintaining false hours and wages records, making false representations under oath to the federal government, demanding and concealing illegal payments from non-immigrant workers, and employing non-immigrant workers in positions inconsistent with their immigration status and at wages below the prevailing wages for their job positions."
Beck said in the interview: "I've had enough of this labor thing! ... If I don't give him work, I'm benching him. If I place him and he doesn't work, I have to pull him out. ... I gave him five warnings to pull him out. I have the emails to prove it. I have the right to pull him out."
She added: "He will not win. He will never win. He's a lazy person, and he took advantage of me. "
Javier seeks treble damages on eight claims, including those mentions above, and breach of contract, unjust enrichment, quantum meruit and fraud.
He is represented by John Howley.