Castellanos-Contreras v. Decatur Hotels LLC, originally filed in 2007 the U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D., La, overturned by 622 F.3d 393 (5th Cir. En banc 2010)
This action was brought by H-2B guestworkers in the hospitality sector who were recruited by Decatur from foreign countries since Hurricane Katrina to work in the Defendants’ luxury hotel operations in New Orleans. The workers traveled to the United States from their countries of Bolivia, Peru, and the Dominican Republic to perform guest services, housekeeping, maintenance, and other essential support functions in the hotel operations of the Defendants. Like thousands of other migrant laborers who have been lured to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the workers in this case left their homes and families based on false promises of high earnings, stable jobs, and good living conditions.
The guestworkers alleged that Decatur violated the FLSA by shifting the costs of its foreign recruitment program – including visa, transportation and recruitment costs – to the Guestworkers to pay—leaving them in a condition of debt servitude. The Guestworkers alleged that these expenses, which were primarily for the benefit and convenience of Decatur, operated as de facto deductions from their wages and caused their wages to fall below the FLSA minimum wage.