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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 1970

    Workers sue U.S. factory after immigration raid

    By Jason Szep

    BOSTON (Reuters) - Workers including 361 illegal immigrants were cheated of hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay at a factory at the center of a high-profile raid in Massachusetts, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

    The class-action lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston on behalf of 500 workers, follows a raid by federal immigration agents on March 6 that drew criticism of the Bush administration's immigration policy and brought national attention to the perils facing undocumented workers.

    Dozens of children were stranded when 361 workers at Michael Bianco Inc., which makes equipment and apparel for the U.S. military, were arrested by federal agents in New Bedford, a port city about 55 miles south of Boston.

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    Many of the immigrants were initially held at a decommissioned Army base in Massachusetts before being flown to Texas.

    The case, separate to a lawsuit filed in March by the arrested immigrants against the U.S. government, accuses Michael Bianco Inc. of setting up a fictional company, Front Line Defense, to pay employees who had worked overtime.

    It said the company channeled payroll through Front Line to avoid a federal law requiring workers be paid time and a half for overtime.

    "In a lot of ways, what they did unfortunately is not out of the ordinary. The practices are very common in a wide range of workplaces, especially those that use predominantly immigrant workers," said Audrey Richardson, an attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services, which represents the workers.

    "It's really only the tip of the iceberg," she said.

    The New Bedford factory had won millions of dollars in contracts from the U.S. Defense Department in recent years and officials said it came to rely on illegal workers to meet rapidly growing demand for its products.

    According to the 15-page complaint filed on Tuesday, the company also deprived workers of wages by enforcing a tardiness policy that routinely deducted 15 or 30 minutes of pay when workers clocked in as little as one minute late.

    The pay was deducted, the lawsuit said, even when the late clock-in was due to long lines because of an inadequate number of time clocks. The company also failed to compensate workers for time spent in lines waiting to clock out, the suit said.

    Doug Baily, spokesman for Michael Bianco, said the allegations are the same as those filed by the government when the factory was raided. "As they are subject of an ongoing federal investigation we are reserving comment," he said.

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    In a separate lawsuit filed in March, the immigrants detained in the raid accused the government of acting in bad faith by rapidly moving them to detention centers in Texas and denying them adequate access to lawyers.

    The New Bedford factory raid, the largest of its kind in New England, came as the U.S. government tries to reform its immigration laws and crack down on people who enter the country illegally and those who employ them.

    The aggressive nature of the raid, and the speed with which federal officials moved more than half the workers 2,400 miles

    away to Texas detention facilities, drew criticism both in the United States and in Latin America. ... RSS&rpc=22

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    I think there should be a class action lawsuit against the factory on behalf of the American people for hiring illegals to begin with.

  3. #3
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Suit accuses Massachusetts firm of bilking illegals

    By Jerry Seper
    Published May 17, 2007

    A Massachusetts leather and clothing manufacturer targeted in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in March has been accused in a lawsuit of conspiring to avoid overtime pay by making it appear that its workers -- many of whom were illegal aliens -- were being paid by two separate companies.
    Brought by Greater Boston Legal Services on behalf of current and former employees of Michael Bianco Inc. (MBI) of New Bedford, Mass., the suit said the workers were paid with two separate checks to give the appearance that none of them exceeded the 40-hour workweek that would require overtime payments.
    The suit said the checks came from Michael Bianco for day shifts and Front Line Defense for evening shifts, although it described the second company as a bogus firm.
    "It was clearly a deliberately created fiction," said Audrey Richardson, a lawyer with Greater Boston Legal Services.
    In March, ICE said in an affidavit the workers received no overtime pay despite working day shifts for the Bianco company and nights for Front Line Defense. It said they performed the same jobs at the same work stations, but used different time clocks and received separate paychecks.
    The affidavit said the two companies operated within the same plant and that Front Line Defense appeared to exist "solely for internal accounting purposes at MBI."
    Hundreds of federal agents and state and local police, led by ICE, descended on MBI in March with search and arrests warrants, rounding up 361 illegal aliens from among the company's 500 employees.
    Criminal complaints accused MBI owner Francesco Insolia, 50; payroll manager Ana Figueroa, 40; plant manager Dilia Costa, 55; and office manager Gloria Melo, 41, of conspiring to encourage or induce illegal aliens to reside in the United States and conspiring to hire illegal aliens.
    Luis Torres, 45, also was charged in a separate complaint of providing phony identification papers to workers at the MBI factory.
    The complaint said Mr. Insolia intentionally sought out illegal aliens because "they were more desperate to find employment and are thus more likely to endure severe workplace conditions he has imposed."
    It described some of the workplace conditions as docking pay by 15 minutes for every minute an employee was late; fining employees $20 for spending more than two minutes in the restroom; fining employees $20 for leaving the work area before the break bell sounds; and fining employees $20 for talking while working.
    According to affidavits in the case, MBI held Defense Department contracts worth $10 million between 2001 and 2003 to manufacture products for the U.S. military and received another defense contract in 2004 worth $82 million. As a result of those contracts, MBI increased its work force from 85 in 2003 to more than 500.
    The affidavits said the company knew that many employees had obtained fraudulent Alien Registration Cards, commonly known as "green cards," and phony Social Security cards. It also said MBI management instructed prospective employees on how to obtain fraudulent documents. ... -9027r.htm
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  4. #4
    Senior Member lsmith1338's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Boston, MA
    Seeing as they were in this country illegally they should not be allowed to sue anyone. This company owner should be prosecuted and lose his contracts now
    Freedom isn't free... Don't forget the men who died and gave that right to all of us....
    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    North Carolina
    It makes no sense to me either how an illegal employee can sue an illegal employer for anything. Something's not right about that.
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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