The Worker Justice Center of New York's mission is to pursue justice for those denied human rights with a focus on agricultural and other low wage workers, through legal representation, community empowerment and advocacy for institutional change.
Originally founded in 1981 as Farmworker Legal Services of New York, WJCNY was established in late 2011 through the merger of Farmworker Legal Services with the Hudson Valley-based Workers’ Rights Law Center. WJCNY is now widely recognized as the premier legal services organization serving farmworkers and other low-wage workers in Upstate New York. Among immigrant communities in our region, we are widely regarded as a trusted source of information and legal assistance, as well as grassroots advocacy.
WJCNY is currently staffed by 20 full-time employees. We work with 6 volunteer attorneys who support our legal work. WJCNY serves approximately 15,000 people each year, most of whom are migrant or immigrant individuals and families. Our programs support a largely rural, marginalized population with legal, human trafficking, survivor, outreach, advocacy programs through direct service, education, consultation, and referrals. With offices in Hawthorne, Rochester, and Kingston we are able to respond to the unique needs of low-wage and agricultural workers across the state.
WJCNY’s guiding vision is a world where every worker should be treated with dignity and respect, and free from coercion. We believe everyone should have access to high quality legal services and the education and tools needed to advocate for themselves. WJCNY works to assist the low-wage worker population in building power, advocating for their needs, and holding bad actors accountable.
Legal: WJCNY provides access to justice for exploited and abused workers, hold bad actors accountable for their actions, and engage in strategic litigation to advance workers’ rights. We focus on wage and hour violations, illegal discrimination and retaliation claims, sexual harassment, workplace health and safety hazards, civil human trafficking litigation, migrant and seasonal agricultural worker protections, violations of guest worker program regulations, farmworker housing issues, and immigration remedies for exploited and abused workers.
Outreach & Education: WJCNY builds trust and cultivates connections among vulnerable workers and their communities. We educate agricultural workers and workers in low-wage industries on their legal rights and empower them in exercising those rights. We focus on marginalized communities that otherwise lack meaningful access to essential services and legal resources.
Survivor Services: WJCNY works side-by-side with survivors of human trafficking and domestic and sexual violence to achieve safety and self-determination. We focus on providing trauma-informed services that are client centered from start to finish, ensuring access to culturally and linguistically appropriate support services and high-quality legal assistance.
Anti-Human Trafficking: WJCNY investigates and interrupts human trafficking schemes, while working to transform the culture of the anti-trafficking field by leading victim-centered training programs for service providers and law enforcement.
Advocacy: WJCNY partners with workers’ centers and organizations to build power for vulnerable workers, address the root causes of workplace injustice, and advance public policies that strengthen the legal rights and protections of workers.