IN LAWSUIT FILED BY TURKISH WORKERS VS IPI
The U.S. District Court for the NMI has granted partial default judgment in favor of the group of Turkish workers who had sued Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC for failing to pay them their wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Last Friday, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona Manglona granted IPI’s former Turkish workers partial default judgment in the amount of $477,935.91 for both FLSA causes of action stated in their suit against IPI; failure to pay wages guaranteed by the FLSA, and for retaliation under the FLSA.
The court will soon issue a detailed decision.
According to the previous motion for partial default judgement filed by Richard Miller, who is the Turkish workers’ lawyer, IPI kept sending its Turkish H-2B workers to the construction site to work for months on end without paying them on time, or at all, in violation of the FLSA.
When the workers walked out, IPI allegedly retaliated. Then, when they sued in federal court, IPI didn’t even come forward and defend itself. “It has abandoned the workers it brought to Saipan to build their hotel,” Miller stated.
The H-2B construction workers from Turkey—represented by Ozcan Genc, Hasan Gokce and Suleyman Kos—filed this lawsuit against IPI and IDS Development Management & Consultancy in the U.S District Court for the NMI last November 2020.
They claim they were forced to eat Chinese food, not paid the minimum wage and overtime, and were allegedly not paid their salaries for multiple payrolls. The workers also accused the defendants of retaliation for the workers’ protest actions.
IPI allegedly promised the Turkish workers that it would hire a cook who could prepare the kind of food suited to them. They were also promised above-minimum wage, substantial overtime pay, and round-trip tickets.
However, the workers said the meals IPI gave them were Chinese food that were “practically inedible” for Turkish people so they ended up buying their own food and cooking for themselves. It was not immediately clear if their opposition to Chinese food was for other than the reason they cited in the complaint.
Aside from IPI allegedly breaking its promise to hire a cook that specializes in Turkish food, the group stated they also weren’t paid the wages they were promised.
Genc, a foreman and welding team leader, said IPI changed his title to carpenter and promised him a salary of $21,840 a year. Gokce, a plumbing foreman, said he was given the title plumber and was also promised $21,840 per annum. Kos, an electrician, was promoted to electrical foreman and was also promised the same salary.
When the workers stopped work on Sept. 11, 2020, for three weeks in protest, they said IPI stopped providing them with drinking water and internet services at their barracks and also stopped their access to company vehicles.