Not Your Typical Undocumented Immigrants - The Victims of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino

July 28, 2015

Tinian Dynasty, Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2008
Every day in the U.S. we hear people bash undocumented immigrants. From racist presidential candidates headlining the evening news to strangers standing behind you in groceries store lines, none of us can escape a day without hearing someone flippantly put down our country's undocumented immigrants.  Most of the haters have not even met or spoken to any of those people who have entered the U.S. without proper papers seeking a better future or those who have overstayed their visas.  There is a nasty de-humanizing undertone to most of the stories or conversations about "illegal aliens" that invade our ear space.

What we do not hear every day are stories about those who are innocently forced out of status by their own employers –– those unfortunate victims scammed by money-grabbing business owners who care only about their profits and care nothing about the foreign workers who they employ to make their profits. The Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino in Tinian, U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is one such employer.

The Tinian Dynasty has been known for decades for its abuse of foreign workers, including discrimination, unpaid wages, and fraudulent documents.  The foreign workers have been treated like disposable labor units and clearly deserve to be made whole for enduring labor abuses that resulted in extreme suffering as outlined in their amended complaint of July 21, 2015.

The defendants who are former and/or current employees are suing the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments, Ltd., and Mega Stars Overseas Limited for fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, wrongful termination and other related causes of action with respect to the denial of approximately 196 CW-l petitions affecting approximately 520 workers by United States Citizenship and Naturalization Services (“USCIS”) on December 8, 2014.

According to the complaint over 95% of the employees of the Tinian Dynasty were foreign workers on one-year contracts authorized by USCIS.

The Tinian Dynasty employers received numerous notices from USCIS stating that employees' CW-1 permits were in jeopardy of being denied as far back as18 months before USCIS actually denied them.  The employers knew that the foreign workers' job were in jeopardy, but the foreign workers did not.

Obviously, the policies need to be rewritten. USCIS should inform both the employer and the foreign worker if the renewal of a permit is to be revoked or terminated. In not doing so it suggests that USCIS also regards foreign workers as labor units rather than human beings.

The complaint outlines numerous lies that the defendants used to entice the foreign workers to stay, disregarding the workers' best interests. The complaint states that Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investment, Ltd. (HKE) deliberately deceived the foreign workers in the following ways outlined in the complaint:
  • "Deliberately withheld such information from the plaintiffs out of fear they would stop working and transfer to new employers which would have effectively shut down business operations and ultimately cost the Tinian Dynasty a significant amount of money."
  • "Lied to workers about their legal status by falsely claiming they were still legally authorized to work notwithstanding the USCIS denial of their CW-l petitions in a self-interested effort to keep the Tinian Dynasty fully staffed during a particularly critical period of time where defendant HKE was seeking to sublease its gaming and hotel interests to a foreign corporation called “Gain Millennia Limited”. 
  •  "Falsely told workers via letter dated January 19, 2015 that USCIS regulations allowed employees with denied CW-1 petitions to continue working so long as an administrative appeal was pending. According to the January 19, 2015 letter, any worker who “disagreed” with defendant HKE’ s claim that it was “not unlawful” to return to work would be deemed to have “resigned” his/her job and processed out of the company. Additionally, defendant HKE threatened to remove any worker deemed to have “resigned” from the pending administrative appeal filed with the USCIS." 
  • "At the time of this statement, defendant HKE knew that federal immigration regulations prohibited a CW-l worker from continuing employment once his/her CW-1 petition was formally denied. Notwithstanding this fact, defendant HKE threatened to constructively terminate any worker who failed to report to work by Wednesday, January 21, 2015 based on the disingenuous premise that working without legal authorization was “not unlawful”.
  • "Defendant HKE’s use of such heavy handed tactics to bully employees back to work places the plaintiffs in the impossible position where they must choose between a) being fired for not  “agreeing” to work illegally and b) working illegally and risk getting deported for violating their status as well as jeopardizing their chances of obtaining future status." 
  • "On January 30, 2015, defendant HKE issued a letter to each of the named plaintiffs constructively terminating their respective employment for their refusal to return to work without proper USCIS authorization."
  • "In the January 30, 2015 letter, defendant HKE disingenuously claimed that plaintiffs had “resigned” their positions even though none of the plaintiffs had done so."
  • "According to the defendant HKE, plaintiffs were deemed to have “resigned” their  positions solely by the fact they refused to return to work even though their refusal to return to work was because the USCIS had denied their underlying CW-1 petition." 
  • "In the same letter, defendant HKE also followed through on its prior threats and 14 vindictively removed plaintiffs from the pending administrative appeal filed with the USCIS as 15 punishment for their refusal to work illegally."
Exhibits A - C support the complaint and verify that the defendant deliberately lied to the plaintiffs. See: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C.

Defendant Mega Stars also knowingly lied to the plaintiffs. From the complaint:
  • On January 12, 2015, the Chairman of defendant Mega Stars sent the plaintiffs a letter urging all workers to put their “fears aside” and concentrate on the upcoming Baccarat Tournament and Poker Tournament as well as the “very busy Chinese New Year”.
  • According to defendant Mega Stars, plaintiffs should “not be afraid to report for duty as usual” because “in the United States, courts recognize that the immigration laws do not provide for criminal punishment for non-United States citizens who are determined not to have the authorization to work. According to defendant Mega Stars, it would be the employer and not the employee who would be subject to criminal punishment if the plaintiffs returned to work without legal authorization. 
  •  However, defendant Mega Stars conspicuously failed to mention to the plaintiffs the serious immigration consequences that would occur if they worked without legal authorization. Specifically, defendant Mega Stars failed to disclose to the plaintiffs that working without proper legal authorization could subject plaintiffs to deportation as well as disqualification from obtaining future immigration benefits such as adjustment of status or other work related status including a CW-l.
Exhibit D
As a result of the employers' lies these innocent employees have suffered extreme harm. With total disregard to the foreign workers' welfare and the human cost, the employers' corrupt and greedy acts have had a devastating impact on the lives of the foreign workers and their families. As the complaint states the plaintiffs innocently followed the orders of their employers. As a result they have lost the right to live and work in the CNMI, a place that they call home, a place where they have been legal, outstanding law-abiding citizens for years.

More stories will follow.

Below is the amended complaint:

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this update.
I feel so sorry to those employees who got affected by this incident, specially those workers who stopped working, It's been 6 months when they stopped work and seek for help I hope that they have a way to support their living. :(

Is there a way that you can post the exhibits?
I really want to read them..

Keep it up

p.s. To those plaintiffs of this case if you are reading this just be patient and stay strong.
"Good things happen to those who wait, But better things come to those who are patient."

Wendy Doromal said...

Here is a link to the complaint and all of the individual exhibits: https://app.box.com/s/uibgnuly1mbuuduj0z0aywy3cftklc27

I hope each and every workers gets justice.

Anonymous said...

Oh! does this lawsuit includes how many payrolls unpaid yet by Tinian Dynasty? past, present, and please! No more future!.
I feel sorry for them!

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that these affected plaintiffs foreign workers of Tinian Dynasty are not only one nationality,. Japanese and Chinese who are included in this lawsuit as plaintiffs can come and go not only in CNMI, without visa interview from U.S Consulate.

Anonymous said...

These people came here in the CNMI with full hopes to have a better life. They have been a law abiding residents in the Island which they call it home only to end up like this, became a victim of such an employer whom they served for how many years. They have families and they deserve humanity. Since they worked for dynasty for years, they are well nourished and suitable for any job only if they have status. Someone applied in our company and have a very good work experiences but unfortunately wasn't hired by my boss because of no status. I feel sorry for these plaintiffs. I hope they will get justice.

Anonymous said...

Seriously.......this is what happens when you let Clowns run the Circus.......Sorry to hear about all the good people caught-up in this debacle caused by bad people with bad intentions.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely..... And it's the same in the side of Tinian legislation and TCGCC around the circus who protect the clowns. It could be for their own profit too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks miss Wendy for sharing the link.when I read your article and the exhibits, it really show the evidences from intent to deny, revocation and denial notices. How could the management of dynasty able to hide it from its employees for a long period of time? Yet until now, the dynasty is fully staffed with the same employees who were being deceived and lied to.... Shouldn't be that these foreign workers have unity for justice? Otherwise these people should leave the Island then because they don't have status. Something needs to be done.

Wendy Doromal said...

Absolutely unity for justice is the correct path.

I will post more later.

Anonymous said...

Just curious if a "Class Action Lawsuit" could be instituted on behalf of ALL the workers (I'm not a lawyer, so maybe this isn't an option for non U.S. citizens or maybe not an option at all in this type of case). It just seems that a class action lawsuit would be something that would be more effective. If a group or "class" has been harmed by the misrepresentation of a business, I would think that qualifies. A class action would also allow for ALL employees to be included, PAST and PRESENT who have been harmed in some manner by the actions of this business. And on another note, I sure wish someone would organize the CNMI citizens on Saipan who voted against the "legalization of gambling" but were somehow circumvented, even though they were the majority. A class action lawsuit could be initiated on the grounds that it has been well documented that gambling brings social harm to a community. If a majority of the citizens voted against "casino type gambling", they should be entitled to have an impartial hearing from a U.S. Court to determine if they, as residents of the CNMI (the class), have been harmed by the introduction of this "form" of gambling. Personally, I believe they were harmed - if they voted against it, but were circumvented. That alone could be construed as a form of "harm" as it is an unwelcome encroachment against the unique indigenious island community they are trying and are entitled to preserve. I'm not certain who they could file a claim against (i.e., the CNMI government is probably immune to such actions) but it would be interesting to see if this is a possible avenue for the citizens of the CNMI? I'm sure there is a law firm in Hawaii or California that specializes in "class actions" and would be willing to take the case on a contingency.

Anonymous said...

If someone asked me to "define" gambling, I could easily sum it up in a brief sentence - "It's so alluring, even Satan was convinced to apply for a gaming license". What bothers me the most about this whole issue is the lack of "checks and balances" from the CNMI government. The government, by all definitions, is supposed to be the protector of the rights of it's citizens. Going further, a government also has the responsibility to protect the rights of those who are engaged in the transactions of trade on their soil (trade being defined as an interaction of any and all parties whether foreign or domestic engaged in an exchange of contractual agreements, labor, ideas or other values for monetary compensation). Specific attention should be made for the protection of "workers" as they are the mainstay of any and all businesses. Which brings me to a point I have made numerous times "anonymously" on this blog. As long as governments or businesses are allowed free reign to operate as they see fit under the guise of "being competitive" and "bringing in revenue", someone is going to end up carrying the burden of profitability by the sweat of their brow. That someone is always going to be that low payed "immigrant" or "visa worker". I have said it numerous times. Fix what's wrong in these countries that have citizens leaving for other countries (i.e., being exploited), and the free market will adjust accordingly to the labor shortage when they refuse to take these lower paying jobs elsewhere. Bottom line, you couldn't operate a casino on Tinian if you didn't have access to a low payed labor force that lives under economic blackmail. True economic development will come to the CNMI when they stop importing cheap labor (that deprives the local economy when contract workers export their earnings), and you start developing local sustainable initiatives. If you can't build a casino on Tinian or Saipan for the lack of "imported labor" - then maybe your casino doesn't belong on a remote island to begin with. Put these damn Chinese Casino's back in your own neighborhood, and then see how well they do........