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Faces of EEOC

Sathaporn Pornsrisirisak

 

"The most important things are freedom, righteousness, and family. I would like to thank this country and all of the people that helped us regain our pride and lives. You have given us a new life, a gift which is invaluable to us."

Sathaporn Pornsrisirisak
EEOC v. Trans Bay Steel, Inc.

 

Sathaporn Pornsrisirisak wanted a better life for his wife and daughter. He heard there were welder jobs in America so he applied through a work agency using his home and land in Thailand as collateral for the very high fee he had to pay. He was promised free housing and food and a good wage. Sathaporn was one of 49 Thai workers contracted under H2B visas by a third party recruiter to work for Trans Bay Steel. However, when he and the other Thai workers arrived in America, their passports were confiscated and they were forced to perform construction work at a restaurant and live in an overcrowded house with no electricity or gas. Sathaporn worked 10 to 13 hours a day for three months, yet only received $200 in wages. Despite his training as a welder, he was farmed out as cheap labor through a Thai newspaper. Soon, Sathaporn and other Thai workers decided to escape these dreadful working conditions and look for assistance.

EEOC got involved with the Thai workers through an investigation of their complaints of national origin discrimination. After an investigation of the charges EEOC filed a lawsuit. Ultimately the case was settled with Trans Bay Steel provided wide-reaching changes to the company's practices, and providing $1 million in monetary relief and compensation for all of the abused workers. EEOC was also able to assist with housing, reunifying the families with the workers, and provided educational opportunities to help the Thai workers get jobs. Eventually, EEOC was able to help bring Sathaporn's wife and daughter to the United States to live with him.

Read another FACES profile dealing with the Trans Bay Steel case.