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August 22, 2006
Guest Workers Hired After Katrina Sue Hotel Chain in New Orleans

Eighty-two Latin American workers who came to work in the United States after Hurricane Katrina have filed a lawsuit accusing Decatur Hotels in New Orleans and the company's president, Patrick Quinn III, of exploiting them and violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The lawsuit alleges that the company and Quinn failed to reimburse guest workers for the fees paid to labor recruiters. The workers--who come from Peru, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic--say recruiters charged between $3,500 and $5,000 to bring the workers to New Orleans under the federal government's H-2B guest worker program.

The workers also allege that the company broke promises made by recruiters. They allege that instead of the 40 hours of work per week plus overtime they say recruiters promised, they found themselves working about 25 hours a week, sometimes far less.

The H-2B visa program allows employers to request foreign workers to fill a one-time, peak load, intermittent, or seasonal need for labor when no workers are available in the local job force.

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