A number of construction workers filed a lawsuit against the contractors related to the building of Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel and Casino, accusing them of mistreating them and threatening their Chinese laborers, some of whom got serious injuries while doing their job.
According to the lawsuit, one of the workers lost part of his finger in an incident, while another got his leg burnt. They, however, did not receive any compensation for their injuries.
Yesterday, a motion filed by the companies seeking to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected by Chief Judge Ramona Manglona from the District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands. The lawsuit also seeks damages in an amount to be determined at a court trial, as well as legal fees. The lawsuit rejection was welcomed by the legal team representing the workers. One of the team’s members, attorney Aaron Halegua, said that the plaintiffs are already one step closer to “having their in court”.
The plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit are seven men from China, including Dong Han, Xiyang Du, Tianming Wang, Qingchun Xu, Liangcai Sun, Yongjun Meng and Youli Wang. They have filed a joint lawsuit against Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, Imperial Pacific International and MCC International Saipan in terms of the work they did for the three aforementioned companies during the casino building process.
Casino Construction Workers Were Unaware They Were Not Allowed to Work in Saipan
The three companies listed above are accused of forced labor under the CNMI Anti-Trafficking Act and under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. In addition, the plaintiffs claim that the companies’ negligence resulted in the injuries which happened at their workplace. They also accuse the companies of failing to provide compensation for the workplace injuries under the provisions of the CNMI law.
The lawsuit, which was filed in March 2019, further states that the workers had to pay high recruitment fees to get the jobs, but eventually learned that they were not legally allowed to be employed in Saipan. They were paid less than minimum wage and were made to work 24-hour shifts without being granted additional compensation for that. The companies did not pay them on time and often owed them money for past work, as the lawsuit states.
The workers also claim that they frequently suffered deductions from their paychecks, which made it difficult for them to pay back the debts they made over the recruitment process.
According to the information included in the lawsuit, the Chinese workers who were illegally employed in the construction of the Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel and Casino were also made to hide when the work site and dormitories were subject to inspection from the Government. To date, no compensations have been paid to the workers by Imperial Pacific despite the latter generated casino revenue amounting to billions of dollars.