Lawsuit claims Utah hotel exploited interns from the Philippines

SALT LAKE CITY — A luxury hotel in Utah is accused of taking advantage of Filipino workers.

Four Philippine citizens filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City recruited them to an internship program that promised cultural experiences and supervised training but instead forced them to work long hours doing menial jobs for low pay.

The plaintiffs — Jann Descanzo, Veronica Bondoc, Glen Segundino and Marianne Ponio — came to the United States to further their education in tourism and hospitality under the J-1 Visa Visitor Exchange Program.

But according to the lawsuit, the upscale hotel used the interns as substitutes for ordinary staffers, requiring them to work “up to 60 hours a week” and “perform less desirable tasks than other non-Filipino employees.”

The lawsuit also alleges that when the workers complained about Grand America’s failure to follow its internship plans, they were threatened with deportation.

The plaintiffs started their internship in 2016 and finished in 2017. They are represented by Asian Americans Advancing Justice as well as three other law groups.

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