Filipino teachers vindicated with class suit verdict
The Filipino Educators Federation of Louisiana (FEFL) are elated on the result of Monday’s decision on the federal class action suit filed more than two years ago against recruitment agency Universal Placement International (UPI) and its owner Lourdes “Lulu” Navarro. “This victory is a product of the continued vigilance and unrelenting efforts of teachers who converted their victimization into a struggle for justice,” declared Ingrid Cruz, the FEFL founding president.
In a verdict read before the court, the jury unanimously ruled and awarded $4.5 million in damages to the members of the class of migrant Filipino teachers recruited from 2007 to 2009 by UPI to work in different school districts in Louisiana under H-1B visas. The federal jury found that UPI and Navarro violated the California Employment Agency Act, the Unfair Business Practices Act and for negligent misrepresentation.
“While the jury did not find that UPI and Navarro violated the Trafficking Violation
Protection Act (TVPA), we feel vindicated with the verdict. The bottom line is that we have proven that UPI and Navarro committed unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices to deceive migrant teachers,” underscored Cruz.
One of the main objectives of the teachers in their quest for justice is to have the unfair and lopsided contracts force upon them by UPI nullified and they were able to achieve that as a result of this case. “So on top of the damages award, these unfair contracts were declared void and the countercharges filed by UPI and Navarro against the teachers were dismissed,” added Cruz.
FEFL pledged to continue their advocacy for migrant workers rights. “Schemes of this nature must be stopped and no other migrant worker should be subjected to such an anomalous and fraudulent process which offers the American dream yet ends up as a nightmare”, Cruz also asserted.
Cruz further said that Filipino teachers are indebted and are grateful to the Southern Poverty Law center (SPLC), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the Covington and Burling Law firm who represented them in their cause.
FEFL also acknowledged the Filipino-American community and Filipino organizations that assisted and supported their efforts.
Approved for release:
FEFL Executive Committee