LA jury awards $4.5 million to Filipino teachers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal jury in Los Angeles has ordered a company to repay $4.5 million to Filipino teachers who paid large fees to obtain U.S. jobs through a placement agency.

The jury on Monday found that Los Angeles-based Universal Placement International and its owner, Lourdes Navarro, failed to properly disclose the fees for the 350 teachers who were recruited for $40,000-a-year jobs in Louisiana, mostly in East Baton Rouge Parish.

A lawsuit brought by the American Federation of Teachers and the Southern Poverty Law Center claimed the teachers were misled and forced into paying excessive debts in abuses that amounted to human trafficking.

However, Don A. Hernandez, a lawyer who represented the company, says jurors rejected the human trafficking allegations. He also says there was no intentional wrongdoing by his client.

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