Eleven Filipino workers were awarded over $15 million in a lawsuit against their former employers, whose claim of labor exploitation and human trafficking was uncontested
The workers were trafficked to the United States to serve as domestic servants and back-of-the-house employees at two high-end bakeries owned by defendants Analiza and Goncalo Moitinho de Almeida.
“Because of this judgment, all the heartache and suffering we had to endure because of Ana’s greed has not been for nothing,” said Gina Pablo, one of the workers.
On May 2, 2016, Judge Fernando M. Olguin of the United States District Court for the Central District of California granted to the workers a default judgment of $15.2 million in damages and fees.
The defendants subjected the workers to abusive conditions, including workdays as long as 17 hours and wages as low as three dollars an hour. They verbally abused the workers, forced them to do landscaping and cleaning at their home, referred to them as “dogs,” and imposed $11,000 in debt bondage on each worker. The defendants also threatened to cancel the workers’ visas and after the lawsuit was filed, threatened to harm them and their families in the Philippines.
On March 18, 2015, with the help of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) and the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, the workers sued the defendants for human trafficking, RICO violations, and violations of federal and state labor, retaliation, and whistleblower laws.
Ana de Almeida is the daughter of politically connected Juan B. Santos, the Chairman of Philippines’ Social Security Commission/Social Security System and a retired CEO of Nestle Philippines.