July 28, 2015
|Tinian Dynasty, Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2008|
What we do not hear every day are stories about those who are innocently forced out of status by their own employers –– those unfortunate victims scammed by money-grabbing business owners who care only about their profits and care nothing about the foreign workers who they employ to make their profits. The Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino in Tinian, U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is one such employer.
The Tinian Dynasty has been known for decades for its abuse of foreign workers, including discrimination, unpaid wages, and fraudulent documents. The foreign workers have been treated like disposable labor units and clearly deserve to be made whole for enduring labor abuses that resulted in extreme suffering as outlined in their amended complaint of July 21, 2015.
The defendants who are former and/or current employees are suing the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments, Ltd., and Mega Stars Overseas Limited for fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, wrongful termination and other related causes of action with respect to the denial of approximately 196 CW-l petitions affecting approximately 520 workers by United States Citizenship and Naturalization Services (“USCIS”) on December 8, 2014.
According to the complaint over 95% of the employees of the Tinian Dynasty were foreign workers on one-year contracts authorized by USCIS.
The Tinian Dynasty employers received numerous notices from USCIS stating that employees' CW-1 permits were in jeopardy of being denied as far back as18 months before USCIS actually denied them. The employers knew that the foreign workers' job were in jeopardy, but the foreign workers did not.
Obviously, the policies need to be rewritten. USCIS should inform both the employer and the foreign worker if the renewal of a permit is to be revoked or terminated. In not doing so it suggests that USCIS also regards foreign workers as labor units rather than human beings.
The complaint outlines numerous lies that the defendants used to entice the foreign workers to stay, disregarding the workers' best interests. The complaint states that Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investment, Ltd. (HKE) deliberately deceived the foreign workers in the following ways outlined in the complaint:
- "Deliberately withheld such information from the plaintiffs out of fear they would stop working and transfer to new employers which would have effectively shut down business operations and ultimately cost the Tinian Dynasty a significant amount of money."
- "Lied to workers about their legal status by falsely claiming they were still legally authorized to work notwithstanding the USCIS denial of their CW-l petitions in a self-interested effort to keep the Tinian Dynasty fully staffed during a particularly critical period of time where defendant HKE was seeking to sublease its gaming and hotel interests to a foreign corporation called “Gain Millennia Limited”.
- "Falsely told workers via letter dated January 19, 2015 that USCIS regulations allowed employees with denied CW-1 petitions to continue working so long as an administrative appeal was pending. According to the January 19, 2015 letter, any worker who “disagreed” with defendant HKE’ s claim that it was “not unlawful” to return to work would be deemed to have “resigned” his/her job and processed out of the company. Additionally, defendant HKE threatened to remove any worker deemed to have “resigned” from the pending administrative appeal filed with the USCIS."
- "At the time of this statement, defendant HKE knew that federal immigration regulations prohibited a CW-l worker from continuing employment once his/her CW-1 petition was formally denied. Notwithstanding this fact, defendant HKE threatened to constructively terminate any worker who failed to report to work by Wednesday, January 21, 2015 based on the disingenuous premise that working without legal authorization was “not unlawful”.
- "Defendant HKE’s use of such heavy handed tactics to bully employees back to work places the plaintiffs in the impossible position where they must choose between a) being fired for not “agreeing” to work illegally and b) working illegally and risk getting deported for violating their status as well as jeopardizing their chances of obtaining future status."
- "On January 30, 2015, defendant HKE issued a letter to each of the named plaintiffs constructively terminating their respective employment for their refusal to return to work without proper USCIS authorization."
- "In the January 30, 2015 letter, defendant HKE disingenuously claimed that plaintiffs had “resigned” their positions even though none of the plaintiffs had done so."
- "According to the defendant HKE, plaintiffs were deemed to have “resigned” their positions solely by the fact they refused to return to work even though their refusal to return to work was because the USCIS had denied their underlying CW-1 petition."
- "In the same letter, defendant HKE also followed through on its prior threats and 14 vindictively removed plaintiffs from the pending administrative appeal filed with the USCIS as 15 punishment for their refusal to work illegally."
- On January 12, 2015, the Chairman of defendant Mega Stars sent the plaintiffs a letter urging all workers to put their “fears aside” and concentrate on the upcoming Baccarat Tournament and Poker Tournament as well as the “very busy Chinese New Year”.
- According to defendant Mega Stars, plaintiffs should “not be afraid to report for duty as usual” because “in the United States, courts recognize that the immigration laws do not provide for criminal punishment for non-United States citizens who are determined not to have the authorization to work. According to defendant Mega Stars, it would be the employer and not the employee who would be subject to criminal punishment if the plaintiffs returned to work without legal authorization.
- However, defendant Mega Stars conspicuously failed to mention to the plaintiffs the serious immigration consequences that would occur if they worked without legal authorization. Specifically, defendant Mega Stars failed to disclose to the plaintiffs that working without proper legal authorization could subject plaintiffs to deportation as well as disqualification from obtaining future immigration benefits such as adjustment of status or other work related status including a CW-l.
Below is the amended complaint: