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Pinoy Qatar World Cup construction workers sue US firm for labor trafficking

Pinoy Qatar World Cup construction workers sue US firm for labor trafficking

Dozens of Filipino workers who helped build stadiums that hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar filed a lawsuit on Thursday claiming US construction firm Jacobs Solutions Inc subjected them to dangerous and inhumane conditions.

The nearly 40 plaintiffs in a complaint filed in federal court in Denver, Colorado, said Jacobs and several subsidiaries that oversaw the construction projects forced workers to live in cramped, dirty barracks and work up to 72 hours straight in blistering heat without food and water.

The plaintiffs also claim they were not paid all of their wages and had their passports confiscated, barring them from finding new jobs or returning home to the Philippines.

Dallas, Texas-based Jacobs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Qatar has faced intense criticism from human rights groups over its treatment of migrant workers, who along with other foreigners comprise the bulk of the country's population. The scrutiny intensified in the years leading up to the 2022 World Cup, when hundreds of workers were reportedly killed and thousands injured during construction projects.

The government of Qatar has said that far fewer workers were killed or injured, and in 2020 raised the country's minimum wage and applied it to foreign workers for the first time.

The plaintiffs in Thursday's lawsuit claim Jacobs knew or should have known about human rights abuses in Qatar and chose to knowingly exploit workers.

Jacobs and its subsidiaries are accused of violating a U.S. law that prohibits trafficked or forced labor even when the alleged conduct occurs outside the United States. The plaintiffs also accused Jacobs of negligence and unjust enrichment, among other claims. They are seeking unspecified damages.  — Reuters