A judge on the American colony of Saipan ruled that factories making clothing for the Gap were in violation of US labor laws. Addressing the plaintiffs' claim that the Saipan sweatshop industry is dependent on indentured foreign labor, the court stated:
"When the labor is tied to a debt owed to the employer and the employer
physically coerces the worker to labor until the debt is paid or the consequences of failing to work to pay off the debt are so severe and outside the customary legal remedy that the worker is compelled to labor, a condition of peonage results, and this is the essence of plaintiffs' allegations."
Most of the workers are Chinese and are required to sign "shadow contracts" waiving their basic human rights. These workers were also allegedly forced to pay "recruitment fees" as high as $7,000 just to come to the U.S., creating an indentured status that has been illegal in the United States since the civil war.
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