Judge orders companies to pay workers $54,400
April 12, 2009
DENVER Two companies have been ordered to pay $54,400 to Mexican workers who entered the country legally with a promise of jobs that never materialized.U.S. Circuit Judge David Ebel ordered JNS Construction of Austin, Texas, and Leno & Co. LLC of Denton, Texas, to pay 68 workers $800 each after recruiting and transporting them to Glenwood Springs in November 2007.Both companies have until April 23 to contest Ebels order that was issued April 3.There was no answer at several phone numbers listed for JNS owner John Herzer, who was acting as his own attorney. A message left for Leno & Co. attorney Charles Kimball was not immediately returned.Fifty-eight of the stranded workers returned to Mexico on two buses provided by Herzer shortly after Glenwood Springs charities scrambled to help the workers find lodging in hotels.Thirty-five workers could not be found afterward while another 10 workers remain legally in the country on visas, said Don Kaufman, attorney for the workers.The workers arrived in Colorado with valid Mexican passports, identification and H2B visas, which allow companies to employ foreign workers if efforts to hire locally are unsuccessful.Midwest Drywall, which was also named in the case, said a letter filed by JNS with the Department of Labor to obtain the work visas was not theirs and they never asked for the workers. Ebels order said Midwest owes nothing.The applications were fraudulent and they were just being brokered by human traffickers, Kaufman told The Associated Press via phone Saturday. They came here for one reason, to work.A judge denied a request for attorneys fees.