Workers headed to Alaska for the upcoming salmon season have filed a suit against Marubeni-owned North Pacific Seafoods, alleging that they were held against their will in a Los Angeles hotel without pay.
The suit, filed in a San Francisco Superior Court, alleges 150 workers were forced to quarantine in a Los Angeles hotel after three of them tested for coronavirus, according to Associated Press.
The workers, primarily from Mexico and Southern California, were hired to work at North Pacific's Red Salmon Cannery in Bristol Bay, the suit alleges.
Workers were brought to the hotel June 10 to be tested, and after four cases came back positive, were told they would be quarantined at the hotel until June 25 without pay.
The state of Alaska has required a 14-day quarantine for all non-resident workers arriving into the state, though it recently revised those rules, allowing for shorter quarantines but requiring testing on arrival.
The attorney representing the workers said that all 150 were told they would be fired if they left the hotel, had key cards from their rooms deactivated, and were only given two meals per day.
The attorney said he will ask the court to require North Pacific to immediately pay them. The attorney, Jonathan Davis, could not be reached by IntraFish for comment.
The lawsuit comes just as the Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery begins.
The specter of COVID-19 being brought into the community has been contentious, with some residents in the area calling for the fishery to be closed altogether.
So far, only a small number of cases has been detected in the region. However, the number of infections among non-resident seafood workers arriving in Alaska has climbed steadily, and is now approaching 100 known cases.
The seafood industry at large has now publicly reported over 500 cases of infections at facilities around the globe, though it's unknown how many cases or outbreaks have gone unreported.