IPI’s H-2B workers seek court’s default judgment

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Posted on Jan 04 2021

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The group of H-2B workers who are suing Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC have asked the U.S District Court for the NMI to enter a default judgment in their favor.

The Turkish construction workers, through their lawyer, Richard Miller, have asked the federal court to immediately rule on their request for an entry of default in their lawsuit against IPI.

The request stems from the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. completely cutting off the electricity to the workers’ barracks last month. In addition, the workers still have not received any back pay from IPI. Unofficial sources say IPI is behind payroll by about 15 weeks.

Özcan Genç, Hasan Gökçe, and Süleyman Köş requested an entry of default after IPI failed to file a response or defend within the time permitted by court rules. Miller said IPI was served with the summons and complaint on Nov. 23, 2020.

Genc, Gokce, and Kos filed the complaint on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated H-2B workers who were recruited from Turkey in 2019. The plaintiffs are seeking a Fair Labor Standards Act certification of collective action from the federal court.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs said that IPI 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 roundtrip tickets.

However, the workers said the meals IPI gave them were 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 Turkish workers ultimately had to borrow money from acquaintances for their travel costs and other expenses.

The group stated they also weren’t paid the wages they were promised.

The plaintiffs said their work hours were drastically cut and all overtime work was eliminated since June. Delay in payrolls started on June 19.

IPI allegedly did not provide them pay stubs so they did not see the deductions made on their salaries.

In addition, health insurance premiums were allegedly deducted from their paycheck, but when they got sick and went to the Commonwealth Health Center they were told that their health insurance coverage had been suspended for nonpayment of premiums.

When the workers stopped work on Sept. 11 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 in October.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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