Religious sect Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha is facing new accusations that it forced hundreds of Indian workers, most of them Dalits and Adivasis, to work at temple construction sites across the United States for long hours and low pay, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Earlier in May, Indian workers had filed a lawsuit alleging that they were brought to the US by the religious sect and forced to work for more than 87 hours a week for $450 a month (over Rs 33,000), or about $1.20 an hour, at a temple construction site in New Jersey’s Robbinsville township.
New Jersey’s minimum wage is $12 an hour and US law requires the pay rate for most hourly workers to rise to 1.5 times when they work more than 40 hours a week.
This lawsuit, amended last month, has been expanded to include other temples in the country where the workers said they were sent to work, according to The New York Times.
The workers were brought to the US on religious visas, or R-1 visas, and their passports were confiscated, the lawsuit filed in May had said. It added that the workers were forbidden from talking to visitors and religious volunteers. They were confined within the fenced-in, guarded site and faced pay…