Two companies in Mississippi are being sued by six immigrants who claim that the companies were dishonest about the wages they would pay them for working in landscaping jobs contracted by the Department of Transportation. The immigrants, all of whom are Mexicans, arrived in Mississippi as a result of the H-1B temporary US visa program, which enables overseas workers to come to the United States for jobs limited to a certain period of time.
The lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of the immigrants says that they worked in state highway groundskeeping jobs for one of the firms, Culpepper Enterprises, which is based in Collins. Recruitment company North American Labor Services Inc, which is based in Pascagoula, is the other named organization.
“These guest workers were exploited for profit,” claims Sarah Rich, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Year after year, Culpepper Enterprises landed lucrative state contracts while defrauding these workers and the US Department of Labor to enrich itself. This abuse occurred under the noses of state officials.” The two companies have yet to comment on the lawsuit, which was originally filed in June. Allegations of corruption were added to the lawsuit this week.
The lawsuit alleges that when the companies signed the workers’ temporary labor certifications, they were aware that Culpepper Enterprises was not going to pay the wage rates that had been stated in the applications and that the workers frequently did not receive the minimum wage mandated by the federal government and were charged for uniforms, tools and protective gear.