Plaintiffs amend garment complaint

Posted on Oct 06 1999

Attorneys for the 23 garment workers who sued 22 textile companies on Saipan filed yesterday an amended complaint identifying the plaintiffs’ employment relationships with their respective employers.

The complaint was amended in response to Federal Judge Alex Munson’s order last month, granting the defendant companies’ motion to break up the class action suit into separate proceedings.

The amended lawsuit filed at the US District Court of Saipan, however, has kept the plaintiffs’ claims as a collective action.

The garment companies named in the class action suit had asked that the complaint be broken down into individual cases on grounds that the claims “do not arise out of the same transaction.”

Attorneys for the defendants argued that the garment companies are “differently situated” from one another, and that not all companies have the same obligations to all of the 23 plaintiffs.

The class action was filed by unnamed garment workers who have charged their employers with violations of local and federal labor laws, as well as violation of human rights.

In the original complaint, the plaintiffs were lumped together as a group suing the defendant companies.

The amended complaint specified the nature of each of the plaintiffs’ work, and to which companies they belonged.

The amended complaint, filed by Saipan-based lawyer Timothy Skinner, maintained that the garment companies have “conscious efforts to emulate each other’s illegal employment practices” as they are governed by the same organization, the Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association of SGMA.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer alleged that “defendants each use the same employment contract templates that contain…[their] duties and obligations to plaintiff garment workers with respect to payment of minimum wage and overtime.” (MCM)

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