Mojsilovic v. Board of Regents University of Oklahoma, No. 15-6151 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Danijela and Aleksandar Mojsilovic appealed the dismissal of their damages claim under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The Mojsilovics are Serbian scientists recruited and hired by the University of Oklahoma to serve as research assistants at the University’s Health Sciences Center. In that capacity, Aleksandar was hired to conduct DNA sequencing and tissue typing for research and clinical studies; Danijela was hired to make transfectants and tissue cultures. The Mojsilovics were retained by the University through the H-1B visa program, and they were supervised by Dr. William Hildebrand, the director of the medical research laboratory at the Health Sciences Center. Dr. Hildebrand also owned a biotechnology company called Pure Protein, which, through a contractual arrangement, shares the University’s facilities to perform similar work. According to the Mojsilovics, shortly after they were hired, Dr. Hildebrand demanded that they also work for Pure Protein. He allegedly required them to work longer hours than permitted by their visa applications, without pay, and threatened to have their visas revoked if they objected. Dr. Hildebrand became verbally abusive at times, and because he was authorized to make hiring and firing decisions, the Mojsilovics claimed they feared he would take action against their immigration status if they did not comply with his demands. The Mojsilovics eventually filed suit, naming the University, Dr. Hildebrand, and Pure Protein as defendants. With respect to claims against the University, the district court dismissed the Mojsilovic’s claims as barred by sovereign immunity. Finding no error in that decision, the Tenth Circuit affirmed.