Martinez-Rodriguez v. Giles, 2022 WL 1132809 (9th Cir. 2022)
Plaintiffs are six citizens of Mexico (all licensed in Mexico as either animal scientists or veterinarians) who were recruited to work as “Animal Scientists” at Funk Diary in Idaho under the TN Visa program for professional employees, as established under the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”). However, once they arrived at Funk Dairy to perform “professional services,” they were required to work substantially as general laborers. In this lawsuit, plaintiffs argued that defendants’ “bait-and-switch tactics” violated federal prohibitions against forced labor. The district court granted defendants’ summary judgment motion, but the Ninth Circuit in this opinion reversed, holding that an issue of fact remained in the case from which a jury could conclude that Funk Dairy knowingly obtained plaintiffs’ labor by abusing the TN Visa process in order to exert pressure on plaintiffs to provide labor that was substantially different from what had been represented to them and to federal consular officials.