The Los Angeles Times reports that owners of two bakeries in Beverly Hills and Torrance are being sued by 11 current and former employees for 27 separate legal violations, including human trafficking and labor laws.
Analiza and Goncalo Moitinho De Almeida were sued on charges of exploiting their workers who came to the U.S. under E-2 work visas, which allow immigrants to work for foreign investors in U.S. businesses.
In their complaint, the workers from L’Amande French Bakery allege that they worked 17-hour days for under minimum wage, and many were forced to work at the bakery owners’ home by cleaning and doing landscaping work rather than doing the specialized bakery work described in the Almeidas’ visa applications to the U.S. State Department.
Lawyers for the workers note that many workers who come to the U.S. under E-2 visas feel reluctant to speak out against their employers as they are not legally permitted to find new jobs and could be deported. Nicole Gon Ochi of the LA office of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which is representing the workers(along with the LA office of Latham & Watkins) said that ‘[t]hey’re[the workers] are stuck between a rock and a hard place because their status is tied to their employer.”
To view the complaint filed by the workers and to learn more about the workers’ experiences, visit the LA Times.