Proposed class action filed against labor recruiter and luxury Telluride hotel alleging rampant wage theft, unlawful retaliation, labor trafficking, and breach of contract
For Immediate Release
Natasha Viteri, firstname.lastname@example.org, (720) 882-5142 (hablo español)
Denver, Colorado — Yesterday, a group of former housekeepers at the luxury Madeline Hotel and Residences in Telluride, Colorado filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the hotel and the labor recruiter that brought them into the country. The plaintiffs, who worked at the hotel on H-2B guestworker visas, allege that they were the victims of wage theft and labor trafficking. The H-2B program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to work in temporary placements they otherwise would not be able to fill in industries such as tourism.
The complaint (available here) alleges the workers came to Colorado in the belief that they would be employed full-time and that they would be provided the pay and benefits promised in their work agreement. Instead, according to the complaint, they experienced dangerous working and housing conditions, were under constant threat of immigration consequences from their employers if they complained about their treatment, and remained in their work only because they feared they would be harmed or retaliated against if they spoke out or left. The lawsuit also alleges that the Madeline Hotel and the labor recruiter failed to pay minimum wage and overtime and denied the workers mandatory rest breaks. According to the complaint, the labor recruiter, Mountain Premier Cleaning Services, violated H-2B visa program requirements by failing to reimburse the workers for the cost of visa processing fees and for travel between Mexico and their jobs in Telluride, Colorado.
“It was difficult working at the Madeline Hotel. We had to travel hours for work each day and even had to pay for the daily ride to get to our shifts. I feel like the hotel took advantage of us because they knew we needed the money but they did not do much to make sure we were being paid correctly,” said Gabriela Moctezuma Castillo, one of the named plaintiffs in this suit.
The workers are represented in this case by Towards Justice, a non-profit legal organization based in Denver, Colorado.
“We are alleging that the Madeline Hotel knew these vulnerable workers were being underpaid for their labor. Guest workers are the backbone of Colorado’s booming tourism industry, but too often suffer from abuses like wage theft and labor trafficking. Deep-pocketed employers like the Madeline Hotel should not get to benefit from unfair arrangements with exploitative labor recruiters,” said Natasha Viteri, attorney at Towards Justice.
This civil case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.