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Oil Rig Explosion Victims Possibly Connected to Human Trafficking Ring

A deadly oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico claimed the life of one worker, and injured many others last week. The incident occurred on the oil rigs run by the Black Elk Energy company, a Houston based industry with multiple locations throughout the U.S. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement believes that the main cause of the deadly explosion has to do with the company’s continuous failure to adhere to the federal regulations for safety.

While these safety violations are a huge concern, other serious matters were discovered during the investigation of the Black Elk Energy company. The 14 employees who were working on the rig were subcontractors for the rig through the Grand Isle Shipyard. Of these workers, one has been pronounced dead and another still remains missing. The Grand Isle Shipyard is a company that is currently under strict investigation for human trafficking, and they have representatives here in the U.S. as well as the Philippines who are facing a class action lawsuit because of the way they are handling their employees. The class action suit was filed specifically for “labor camps”, because the company was placing their immigrant workers under inhumane living and work conditions.

According to reports, the workers were paid below average wages while they were forced to live in designated housing arrangements by the company. Here they would share a small room with between 4-6 men and they would be charged unimaginable rates to live there each month, sometimes as high as $3,200 per person. These men were imprisoned by their employers, and it is said that they were not only locked into their rooms, but they were also not able to leave apart from a one hour shopping outing once a week.

This lawsuit is not only accused the Grand Isle of running labor camps, but it includes their unfair treatments as well as a multitude of false promises made by the companies to their employees. These promises included decent wages, comfortable living arrangements that were free of charges; little did these workers know that they would be receiving the exact opposite. Lori Mince, the attorney representing the class action law suit, shares that at this point 40 victims have come forward to discuss their mistreatment. She also claims that in these industries human trafficking for the purpose of cheap labor is not uncommon today.

The workers were extremely fooled during their work hiring process, as they were actually screened by the U.S. embassy as legal workers and the company gave false documents about their wages for work. These workers were brought into the United States under false pretenses of a safe working condition, and sadly they are likely not the only victims who have experienced this form of treatment. If you or someone you know has been a victim of human labor trafficking, or has been injured on oil rig explosion, don’t hesitate to contact Arnold & Itkin today. We are a firm that cares about your future; let us fight for what you deserve!