Afghan and Iraqi immigrants who spent years in the California desert posing as combat bystanders for U.S. Marine Corps training exercises reached a $3 million settlement over claims they were owed overtime pay.
The immigrants and the defense contractor that hired them, Tatitlek Support Services, asked a Los Angeles federal judge Monday to approve their settlement.
The program, originally known as Mojave Viper, wrapped up in 2014, but workers who took part claimed Tatitlek owed them for every hour they had to spend on the base even if they weren’t actually working.
The workers were paid by the hour -- $17 in 2013 -- to play farmers, village elders, and insurgents, for as long as two weeks at a time living on base. They spent much of their time in mock villages built from steel shipping containers that could be hot during the day and freezing at night. Their military supervisors insisted they be available at all hours to participate in training exercises.
The case is Nur v. The Tatitlek Corp., 5:15-cv-00094, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).