Southern District of Florida Dismisses University Employee’s Forced Labor Claims

In the recent Court Case (No. 10-22072) Gerardo Alvarado sued Carlos Albizu University for breach of contract and “breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.” He was working at the University on an H-1B visa in 2006 when he was promoted to Interim Director of the Business Program at the Miami Campus in 2007. His salary was increased from $75,000 to $95,000 per year. The University also agreed to sponsor Alvarado’s permanent labor certification in order for him to keep working past December of 2009. When the Director of Recruitment and Admissions stepped down, Alvarado was asked by the University to take over the position that had a salary less than his current job. When he asked for additional money the University refused saying it was already paying for attorney costs and fees for his labor certification.

Alvarado said the University violated § 1589(a) (3) and (4), alleging they used his pending labor certification as a means of force/abuse to obtain his “labor”. He believed that if he did not take this new job with the lower salary he would lose his visa and not obtain a permanent labor certification.

The Southern Florida District Court decided Alvarado’s claims failed. His arguments were “inconsistent with the definition of abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process,” he merely proved the University violated the law. The court concluded that even though the University violated the regulation it did not use it as a “tool of coercion.” The University’s Motion to Dismiss was GRANTED.

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