EEOC Recovers $5M for Indian Guest Workers Mistreated in Katrina, Rita Rebuilding Efforts

By many accounts, the rebuilding of the Gulf Shore following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a success, as storm-battered houses and businesses got back on their feet.

But the Katrina aftermath wasn’t so good for nearly 500 Indian guest workers, who were taken advantage of by Signal International, LLC, a Mobile, Ala. ship building and repair company, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged.

The EEOC said on Friday that Signal had agreed to pay $5 million to settle a race and national origin discrimination lawsuit.

According to the EEOC, Signal International recruited the workers from India through the federal H-2B guest worker program to work at its facilities in Texas and Mississippi in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

EEOC alleged Signal subjected the men to a pattern or practice of race and national origin discrimination, including unfavorable working conditions and forcing the men to pay $1,050 a month to live in overcrowded, unsanitary, guarded camps. As many as 24 men were forced to live in containers the size of a double-wide trailer, while non-Indian workers were not required to live in these camps.

Read more about the lawsuit and settlement here.

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