Litigation

Major Discrimination Case Settled Against Regional Grocery Chain

WJCNY’s Litigation Program builds on decades of success in achieving justice for victims of wage theft and other workplace abuses throughout New York State. Our offices have represented literally thousands of low-wage workers across industries such as agriculture, construction, food and service, and domestic work and recovered over $10 million in unpaid wages on behalf of our clients. We have taken on groundbreaking cases in areas such as human trafficking where we have created new legal standards that are used by practitioners to assert the rights of marginalized worker populations. In many cases, we have organized entire workforces so that they are better equipped to protect their own rights. By prioritizing class actions and other high-impact cases and by conducting large scale public education around our legal campaigns, we are able to ensure that basic labor standards are enhanced across entire industries.

Over the years, we have been able to shed light on violations in new industries—as demonstrated by our partnership with the State Attorney General’s office in the Dreamland case where, in the course of achieving a major settlement against an amusement company, we revealed patterns of abuses that affect temporary H-2B workers throughout the state. Further, we have been able to leverage these types of cases into policy campaigns that seek to reform institutions and regulations, expand worker protections, and increase wage levels for all workers.

All told, we have provided direct legal assistance to a wide range of clients—from a pair of El Salvadorian sisters sexually harassed on a daily basis by their boss, to a homeless and partially disabled grocery store clerk who was relentlessly mistreated, to a group of 100 farmworkers who were paid well below the minimum wage—WJCNY is committed to making sure that every worker who walks in our door is given the support and assistance they deserve.

The following are among our most notable cases:

Leon v. Pelleh Poultry

WJCNY continues to disperse wages to our clients upon settlement of a lawsuit against a poultry packing house in Sullivan County achieved in early 2012. The class of workers alleged widespread overtime and discrimination violations.

Settlement Against New York State Fair Concessionaire

In 2012, WJCNY achieved settlement in a high profile human trafficking and wage case against a concessionaire at the New York State Fair. The case shed light on the multitude of abuses facing H-2B workers and generated broad attention in the media and national policy reports.

Javier H. v. Maria Garcia-Botello

Our offices filed the first major human trafficking case in New York in 2002 — a class action against 36 contractors and growers alleging that their employees were forced to work under conditions of debt peonage. We are proud to announce that we have finalized a historic settlement in this case in 2013.

Casas v. Hannaford

In 2010, our Kingston office successfully resolved a case on behalf of an African-American, Latino, and disabled client who endured long-standing harassment and discrimination while working the night shift at a local grocery chain. As part of the outcome, anti-discrimination trainings were to be conducted at Hannaford stores.

Luis v. Peppy’s Foods, Inc.

We have achieved a $250,000 settlement in a class action against a food processing plant alleging violations of federal and state wage and hour laws.

Iglesias-Mendoza v. La Belle Farm, Inc.

We successfully settled a major class action against a poultry plant in Sullivan County. Many of the laborers worked over 80 hours per week, but were never paid overtime and often did not earn the minimum wage.  On January 26, 2007, the Court issued a groundbreaking decision granting the Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification.  In [...]

Cuzco v. Orion Builders, Inc.

This is a representative action against a construction contractor alleging that he never paid overtime, routinely paid his employees one month late, and did not pay the named plaintiff at all for some of his work. The employer also misclassified his employees as independent contractors.  In 2011, WRLC  achieved a successful outcome in recovering wages [...]

Irving v. Porpiglia & Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Porpiglia Farms, Inc.

$150,000 settlement in two combined cases against a produce packing operation. These cases alleged that the defendants violated federal racketeering, farmworker protection, and employment discrimination laws, as well as federal and state wage and hour laws. The WRLC’s litigation was brought on behalf of four workers, and the EEOC litigation was brought on behalf of [...]

Hernandez v. CJH, Inc.

$32,000 settlement and judgment in a lawsuit alleging violations of federal and state wage and hour laws.

Lima v. Attie

$51,031 judgment in a lawsuit alleging violations of federal and state wage and hour laws.

Perez v. Newburgh Auto Spa, Inc.

$23,500 settlement in a class action lawsuit against a car wash and oil change chain alleging violations of federal and state wage and hour laws.

Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center v. Bahruth

A successful suit against the City of Kingston Tax Assessor and others alleging that the LGBTQ Center was wrongfully denied a property tax exemption. The WRLC co-counseled with Lambda Legal (Read Lambda Legal’s press release about this case) and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP.

Olvera-Morales v. International Labor Management Corp., Inc.

A nationwide class action against some of the largest contractors of H-2A and H-2B guestworkers from Mexico alleging that the contractors steered women into inferior H-2B jobs. The WRLC co-counseled with Legal Momentum, North Carolina Justice Center, and Kaye Scholer, LLP.  On November 7, 2007, the Court granted the Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification.

Saldivar-Villavicencio et. al. v Zappala Farms, LLC et. al.

17 migrant farm workers alleged that they were recruited to work in Western New York under false and misleading information. They alleged that they were required to live in sub standard housing and were discriminated against based on the race and national origin. A mutually satisfied settlement between the plaintiff and defendants was reached in [...]

Martha Kimmerly, et al. v Quiet Woman Farm LLC, et al.

Five plaintiffs allege that they worked, on an average, 75 hours per week and were either not paid, did not receive the minimum wage or paid for hours worked in those weeks. Plaintiffs also allege that the housing was unsafe and were charged for utilities that were not provided.  Additionally, plaintiffs allege that the employer [...]

Oscar Reid v Borchert Orchard, Inc and William Borchert

Plaintiff alleged being paid less than minimum wage for several years of employment, supplied with unsafe housing  and being provided false and misleading information regarding the terms and conditions of employment. A mutually satisfied settlement between the plaintiff and defendants was reached in 2007.

Gerna Pierre v. Lagoner Farms, Inc., And Tecillon Joseph

Plaintiff alleged being sexually harassed, assaulted and subjected to a hostile work environment. A mutually satisfied settlement between the plaintiff and defendants was reached in July, 2011.

Reyes v. Mongiello’s Italian Cheese Specialites, LLC

WRLC achieved a $278,260 settlement in a class action lawsuit alleging violations of federal and state wage and hour laws. The Workers’ Rights Law Center of New York, Inc., as counsel for Plaintiffs in the class action entitled Reyes v. Mongiello’s Italian Cheese Specialties, LLC has negotiated a class-wide settlement with Defendants. This case is [...]