Florida Attorney General Sues South Florida Companies Over Illegal Use of Filipino Workers

~ Workers were allegedly mistreated, underpaid, and prevented from
returning home ~

TALLAHASSEE, FL – LAWFUEL – Acting on a complaint from the Filipino Consulate, Attorney General Bill McCollum today filed a lawsuit against a Miami employment service and two Boca Raton business owners and their company, alleging they advertised full-time employment and free housing but did not provide the advertised employment. The complaint further explains the individuals took away the workers’ passports and return tickets home.

Sophia Manuel and Alfonso Baldonado of Boca Raton, and their company, Quality Staffing Services Corporation and DAR Workforce Solutions USA, Inc. of Miami are named in the lawsuit for alleged deceptive employment of temporary overseas workers from the Philippines.

“These people came to Florida believing they would have a chance at the American dream of earning a decent wage to provide for their families,” said Attorney General McCollum. “Instead, they were trapped in low-wage positions and have had to depend upon handouts from friends to survive because of the apparently deceptive manner in which they were recruited.”

The lawsuit alleges the defendants made arrangements for at least 13 and possibly as many as 50 Filipino workers to be employed full-time in food service at a Boca Raton country club from the fall of 2007 through July 1, 2008. The defendants received thousands of dollars in fees from the responding workers, who were promised free housing plus wages as part of their contracts. However, the workers discovered upon arrival that they did not have jobs at the country club and instead were sent to work part-time for $6.67 an hour at various clubs throughout Palm Beach and Dade Counties.

Additionally, the complaint alleges the “free housing” provided for the workers consisted of a 3-bedroom house for 25 to 30 people, many of whom had to sleep on floors and even in the garage. The workers’ passports were also confiscated but despite a court order requiring Sophia Manuel to turn the passports over to the Filipino Consulate, she refused to do so.
In light of this refusal, which equates to contempt of a civil court order, possible law enforcement action may be necessary.

“I commend the Attorney General for his commitment to assist victims of human trafficking in Florida,” said Anna Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking. “All laws protecting these victims will be strictly enforced in the State of Florida.”

Under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, the Attorney General is seeking penalties of $10,000 per violation as allowed by law, the dissolution of Quality Staffing Services Corp. and DAR Workforce Solutions USA, Inc., and injunctions against the companies and their owners prohibiting them from engaging in any business activity or operations offering, soliciting, providing or otherwise dealing in or related to the employment of temporary workers. The complaint also names the Boca Woods Country Club Association, Inc. and Boca Woods Property Owners’ Association, Inc. as the owners of the Boca Woods Country Club in Boca Raton.

A copy of the lawsuit is available online at:
http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-7BTQHE/$file/QualityStaffingComplaint.pdf

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