A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey, on behalf of more than 200 Indian construction workers, alleges “gross violations of basic laws applicable to workers in this country, such as laws prohibiting forced labor.”
Hundreds of Indian workers were expelled to build a massive Hindu temple in New Jersey where they were forced to work long hours for low wages in violation of U.S. labor and immigration laws, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The indictment filed on behalf of the U.S. District Court in Newark on behalf of more than 200 Indian construction workers has complained that “the basic laws applicable to workers in this country, including laws prohibiting forced labor, are gross violations.”
In the lawsuit filed by five workers, Bochasanwasi is accused of hiring Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha or BAPS company and related organizations in India to bring him to the United States and force him to work in the temple. 87 hours a week for $ 450 a month or $ 1.20 an hour.
The minimum wage in New Jersey is $ 12 an hour, and U.S. law requires that the hourly rate of most workers be raised to a one-and-a-half hour rate when they work more than 40 hours a week.
The lawsuit alleges that workers were constantly cared for and threatened to have their salaries reduced, arrested and returned to India if they spoke to outsiders. On Tuesday, FBI agents visited a decorated temple in the rural area of Robbinsville, east of Trenton, on Tuesday.
“We were there in the activity of enforcing the law allowed by the courts,” Doreen Holder, a spokeswoman for the Newark Federal Bureau of Investigation office, confirmed by phone.
The incumbent does not mean how many agents were on the premises or determine their role.
A BAPS spokesperson, who describes himself as a Hindu socio-spiritual organization and the offices of his entities in Piscataway, New Jersey, did not immediately return calls for comments.
According to the lawsuit, the BAPS organizations have the land on which the temple was built and the land they were planning to build. The temple has been open for several years but work is underway to enlarge it.
The plaintiffs say they worked in the temple as a stone cutter and other construction workers in 2012, saying that in India, they were formerly “untouchables” and belonged to the socially excluded Scheduled Caste.
Once they were working on the construction, the complaint said they were “forced to live and work in a fenced and cared for complex, and that the supervisors associated with them (BAPS) could not leave them unattended.”
The lawsuit, which allegedly falsely classified workers as religious and volunteer workers when they entered the village, calls for “the full value of their services,” as well as unspecified damages and other compensation.