Dozens of Indian guest workers sue Ala.-based company over human trafficking claims

GULFPORT, Miss. – Dozens of Indian guest workers are suing an Alabama-based marine and fabrication company, claiming it financially exploited them and forced them to live in squalid conditions after bringing them to work at Gulf Coast shipyards after Hurricane Katrina.

Three federal lawsuits backed by the Southern Poverty Law Center were filed Tuesday in Mississippi and Texas on behalf of 83 people who were recruited to work as welders and pipefitters for Signal International LLC after the 2005 storm.

The centre filed a similar suit in New Orleans in 2008, but a judge refused to certify it as a class action. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also sued the company in 2011.

A Signal International lawyer said she hadn’t seen the new lawsuits and declined to comment on their allegations.