Pinoy teachers seek US appeals court’s help vs. recruiter
Hundreds of Filipino teachers have asked an appeals court on Wednesday (US time) to uphold the $4.4 million award a federal jury said their Filipino recruiter owed them for allegedly defrauding and exploiting them in 2010.
A report on Courthouse News said the amount was the damages Universal Placement International (UPI) and its president Lourdes "Lulu" Navarro owed the 347 Filipino teachers after a jury found them liable for negligent misrepresentation and unfair competition in 2012.
The jury, however, dropped the human trafficking case against Navarro and UPI.
The teachers, who were all flown in from the Philippines, claimed they were "systematically defrauded and exploited" by Navarro after paying up to $16,000 each to work in Louisiana public schools.
A report on the Boston Globe quoted the teachers as saying that upon their arrival in the US, Navarro forced them to sign a contract agreeing to hand over 10 percent of their salary during their second year on the job.
It said Navarro also charged the teachers with renewal fees for their year-long visas instead of securing them three-year work visas.
When the teachers vented their frustrations online, Navarro allegedly threatened them with deportation, the Boston Globe report said.
UPI and Navarro appealed the federal court's ruling through lawyer Katarine A. Miller, who argued that "there was a miscarriage of justice" in the jury's decision to hold them liable for the charges.
She also Navarro should not have been held personally liable, noting that adverse judgments against the recruiter in litigation in Louisiana, the Philippines and the school districts opened the door to double recovery.
"Had governing law been applied properly, the trafficking claim would not have been certified and the inflammatory evidence not relevant to the state law claims would not have been admissible or admitted," Miller wrote in the opening brief.
Henry Liu, the teachers' representative, argued that Navarro personally collected fees from the women and "directed those fees into her own personal bank account."
"She herself made decisions about what representations would be made to class members. She delivered contracts and organized the process," Liu said. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News