NEW ORLEANS (CN) – To restore its Audubon Pointe apartments after Hurricane Katrina, Audubon-Algiers LLC resorted to human trafficking and forced labor, and when the immigrant workers complained about forced labor for no pay, the defendants evicted them from their shoddy housing and called immigration officials to round up the workers, who were owed nine to 13 weeks wages, according to a federal class-action complaint. Seven of the 13 named plaintiffs have say they been held in prison without bond on immigration charges since the Feb. 27 raid.
Defendants include Audubon-Algiers LLC president Charles Reyher and Audubon Communities Management. Plaintiffs estimate that 50 members of the class were subjected to these abuses.
Plaintiffs say they were paid below minimum wage for working six or seven days a week, stiffed for overtime, and repeatedly threatened with arrest and deportation if they did not continue working for little or no pay.
The workers say the Immigration Customs and Enforcement raids were illegal, as an ICE regulation “restricts the agency from acting on any tip linked to an employer, where there exists an ongoing labor dispute, without first following a series of internal procedures. … If, in the course of an enforcement action, ICS should discover the existence of a labor dispute, the internal guidance provides that ICE should stop any further enforcement actions. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE are currently investigation the agency’s potential violation of Operating Instruction 287.3a and unwitting deployment as an instrument of retaliation in this pending labor dispute,” the complaint states.