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Malee Bureerong v. Tavee Uvawas

922 F. Supp. 1450 (1996)

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Malee Bureerong v. Tavee Uvawas

United States District Court for the Central District of California

922 F. Supp. 1450 (1996)

Facts

Beginning in 1988, Malee Bureerong (plaintiff) and other immigrants from Thailand were forced to work in the California garment industry as modern-day slaves. Bureerong and the other immigrants were forced to sew clothing for as many as 18 hours per day for seven years. Bureerong alleged that the immigrants were imprisoned, and that they were required to live and work in the same building. Bureerong’s contact with anyone outside the building was restricted. In addition, Bureerong was subjected to threats of physical violence against family members for noncompliance. Despite working such long hours, Bureerong and the other immigrants either received no wages or received less than the federal minimum wage. The workers were not paid for working overtime. Bureerong’s employer served as a garment contractor providing clothing for Tavee Uvawas (defendant) and for various companies in the garment industry. Uvawas and these other companies negotiated prices that were too low for the garment contractor to abide by the minimum wage and overtime payments required by the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Bureerong and the other immigrants brought suit in federal district court alleging that Uvawas and the companies were joint employers along with the garment contractor.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Collins, J.)

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