Dalit Workers Allege ‘Shocking Violations’ in Building Temple in New Jersey

Tons of of marginalised staff from India had been recruited to construct an enormous Hindu temple in New Jersey the place they had been pressured to work lengthy hours for low pay in violation of US labour and immigration legal guidelines, in accordance with lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

The criticism, filed within the US District Court docket in Newark on behalf of greater than 200 Indian building staff on the temple, alleges “stunning violations of essentially the most primary legal guidelines relevant to staff on this nation, together with legal guidelines prohibiting pressured labour.”

The swimsuit, filed by 5 of the employees, accuses their employer, Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, or BAPS, and associated entities of recruiting them in India, bringing them to the USA and forcing them to work on the temple for greater than 87 hours every week for $450 a month, or about $1.20 an hour.

New Jersey’s minimal wage is $12 an hour and US regulation requires the pay price for many hourly staff rise to time-and-a-half once they work greater than 40 hours every week.

The swimsuit says the employees had been stored below fixed watch and had been threatened with pay cuts, arrest and return to India in the event that they spoke to outsiders. On Tuesday, FBI brokers visited the sprawling ornate temple in rural Robbinsville, simply east of Trenton.

“We had been there on court-authorised regulation enforcement exercise,” Doreen Holder, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation subject workplace in Newark, confirmed by phone.labour

Holder declined to say what number of brokers had been on the premises or elaborate on their mission.

A spokesman for BAPS, which describes itself as a socio-spiritual Hindu organisation, issued an announcement saying, “We had been first made conscious of the accusations this morning, we’re taking them very critically and are totally reviewing the problems raised.”

The swimsuit mentioned the BAPS entities personal the land the place the temple was constructed and organized for its building. The temple has been open for a number of years, however work on extending it’s ongoing.

The plaintiffs, who declare to have labored on the temple as stone cutters and different building staff way back to 2012, mentioned that in India, they belonged to the Scheduled Caste, previously thought of “untouchables” and socially oppressed.

As soon as on their building jobs, the criticism mentioned “they had been pressured to dwell and work in a fenced, guarded compound which they weren’t allowed to depart unaccompanied by overseers affiliated with (BAPS).”

The swimsuit, which additionally claims the employees had been falsely labeled as spiritual staff and volunteers once they entered the nation, seeks “the complete worth of their providers” in addition to unspecified damages and different compensation.


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