Jennifer J. Lee


Despite the well-known abuses of guest workers, the government has failed to curb them. Guest workers with H-2A and H-2B visas face appalling job conditions, including the confiscation of documents, wage and hour abuses, on-the-job injuries without treatment, unhealthy housing conditions, and verbal and physical abuse. Although multiple government agencies have failed to address the exploitation of guest workers, the government has authorized these workers to invoke private civil remedies. These remedies can become a means by which disadvantaged immigrant workers seek redress for their egregious exploitation, particularly given how severely disadvantaged such workers are in the political arena.

This Article examines to what end the devolution of rights via private civil remedies can be leveraged to benefit immigrant workers, giving them the opportunity to tell their own story while seeking justice for themselves and other workers. Ultimately, this Article argues that private civil remedies can play a modest role in vindicating the rights of guest workers while simultaneously producing counternarratives that combat cultural assumptions about guest workers, ultimately leading to guest worker empowerment.