Additional lawsuit filed against WITCC, others over misuse of J-1 Visa program

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – An additional 11 students have filed a lawsuit against Western Iowa Tech, J&L Staffing, Royal Canin, and Tur-Pak on Monday claiming trafficking and forced labor of a visa program.

The lawsuit stems from a J-1 Visa program Western Iowa Technology Community College (WITCC) had in 2019 where students from Brazil and Chile were told they would work 32 hours a week and complete internships related to their field of study.

The defendants in the case are WITCC, J&L Staffing, Tur-Pak Foods, Inc, Royal Canin USA Inc, and involved staff and administrators.

Court documents allege students were expected to work more than 32 hours a week at Royal Canin or Tur-Pak and did not relate to their field of study. Additionally, they were told they would be removed from the J-1 Visa Program and sent home with they were unable to work due to being sick. While the normal wage for the two companies were $15 per hour, the student’s only received $7.25 with the rest given to WITCC and J&L Staffing, documents say.

The documents also said that after a review of the J-1 visa program in November 2020, the students lost their jobs and had to use local food pantries for food.

All defendants are being sued for forced labor and trafficking for forced labor, violation of Iowa Wage Payment Collections Law, Violations of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ActConspiracy to commit violations of Racketer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, violations of the 13th Amendmendment, denial of right to procedural and substantive due process under Iowa State Constitution Article I-9, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and tortious infliction of emotional distress.

In addition, Royal Canin and Tur-Pak are being sued for violations of the Fair Standard Act, while WITCC is also being sued for breach of written contract, torious bad faith breach of contract or denial of contract.

A similar lawsuit was filed in November of 2020.

Read the full lawsuit below.


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