Latest modern slavery fight updates -

Trafficked Filipino Sues California Couple

  • Published on
    January 10, 2018
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Domestic Slavery, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking
Hero Banner

A Filipino woman is suing a California couple for forcing her into “involuntary servitude for almost 3 years” at their family home. Edelynne Bergado says she was lured by Marlon and Nelle-Ann Velonza to the United States with promises of a well-paying job and a green card, but upon arrival had her passport confiscated by the couple and subjected to forced labor.

Bergado was working at a cosmetics factory run by the Velonza’s relatives in the Philippines when she was approached with a job offer. The couple asked her to come work for them in the United States, taking care of Mr. Velonza’s elderly mother. They promised her Php 9,000 (177 USD) salary, school tuition for Bergado’s children, and help obtaining a green card if she worked for them more than a year.

However, Rappler reports that the couple refused to let Bergado return home despite Mr. Velonza’s mother already going back to the Philippines.

Bergado claimed to have suffered from “extreme verbal abuse” and that she was forbidden from leaving her employers’ apartment without supervision, prohibited from speaking to anyone outside, and was monitored through security cameras when left alone.

“Edelynne was treated like a slave,” said Laboni Hoq, Advancing Justice-LA’s Director of Impact Litigation. “The defendants in this case knowingly benefited from human trafficking. It is illegal to lure someone into the country, keep them effectively imprisoned, and make them work for pennies an hour.”

Through intimidation and confiscation of belongings, Bergado said she felt compelled to continue working for them despite the inhumane conditions. In January 2017, Bergado escaped her traffickers when she was rescued by the police.

Bergado is suing the couple, alleging violations of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the California Labor Code, and other violations of the law. 

Christopher Lapinig, Registered Legal Services Attorney at Advancing Justice-LA added that he hopes Bergado’s case will prompt others to come forward. “It is encouraging when, after escaping their traffickers, survivors like Edelynne stand up and seek justice. We hope that Edelynne’s bravery inspires other survivors to do the same,” he said.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

Rounded up and abandoned: Europe’s covert support of migrant atrocities

It is well documented that inhumane immigration policies are forcing migrants to take extremely risky routes on their journey to seek asylum in Europe and globally. However, a year-long investigation by the Washington Post, Lighthouse Reports, and a consortium of international media outlets uncovered that migrant lives are not just at risk due to sketchy channel crossings and being packed in the back of refrigerator trucks. To dissuade sub-Saharan

| Wednesday May 22, 2024

Read more