Economic Justice

In recent years we have strengthened our focus on economic justice issues as a result of workplace injustices we uncovered. Workplace discrimination issues disproportionately affect immigrant workers for a number of reasons. Language barriers, poverty and lack of awareness of their rights, and fear of retaliation often prevent them from seeking legal assistance or contacting governmental labor and law enforcement authorities. The scarcity of legal resources in high poverty areas and limitations on federally-funded legal service providers seriously complicate matters for undocumented immigrants. Of the few legal service providers that serve all immigrant workers regardless of status, none focus exclusively on Latinos, and few serve the geographic areas we work in.

Too often, the institutions that are supposed to benefit workers instead work against them. Recent immigrants often rely on local employment agencies that charge fees and largely control access to low-wage jobs, such as domestic and restaurant work. Employment agencies often take advantage of and defraud workers by charging exorbitant advance fees for unfulfilled services, knowingly place workers in jobs that violate state and federal labor laws, fail to pay minimum wage or overtime, and threaten to blacklist workers who complain. Domestic workers often rely on referral agencies to access per diem jobs that barely pay a poverty wage. Restaurant workers have been known to use these agencies only to find themselves working 70+ hours without earning minimum wage or overtime.

Programs

Latinas at Work

The purpose of the Latinas At Work Project is to challenge the systemic abuse of immigrant women workers in the metropolitan New York area. The exploitation of Latina immigrant workers is a serious and pervasive problem throughout the country. From factories, hotels, restaurants and other small businesses to private homes, workers are routinely subjected to exploitative labor conditions with long hours, illegally low wages and sexual harassment. The Latinas At Work Project seeks to challenge the systemic abuse of immigrant women workers. Read the full description of the program here.

Puerto Rico Debt Crisis

The burdens of the Puerto Rican Debt crisis are being shouldered disproportionately by the people in Puerto Rico. In an effort to shift this imbalance, we are working with activists in Puerto Rico and the United States to make sure that solutions developed respect the rights of the people in Puerto Rico more than the banks. You can read about a FOIA we filed for information concerning the federal fiscal control board established under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) here.

Economic Justice Legislation

LatinoJustice follows a number of laws at the local and national level about Economic Justice. Check back here regularly for updates on specific laws that hurt or benefit the community. The featured Economic Justice Legislation will be updated on a monthly basis. The first piece of legislation that we want to highlight is our testimony before the New York City Council on the Street Vendor Bill, you can read the testimony here.

Economic Justice Updates

LEGAL GROUPS AND PUERTO RICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS SEEK ANSWERS ON FEMA’S INADEQUATE AND INHUMANE RESPONSE TO HURRICANE MARIA

Legal organizations based in the U.S., working with investigative journalists in Puerto Rico, filed multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seeking detailed information concerning the agency’s inadequate, and often incomprehensible, efforts to provide emergency relief after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017.

Federal Judge Approves Latinojustice As Class Counsel In $200,000 Workplace Settlement

On January 31, 2018 Judge Vincent Briccetti of the United States Southern District Court preliminarily approved a proposed settlement agreement from Plaintiffs and Defendant Ideal Snacks Corp. based on terms agreed in their August 2017 Mediation. Class certification and class agents were also approved.

Immigrant Building Worker Secures $44,000 in Back Wages Under Special State Minimum Wage Law

A building porter who often worked seven days a week in exchange for a free room in the basement of a building but was never paid a salary was awarded almost $50,000 in unpaid wages after he filed a back wages claim with the New York Department of Labor.

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