Survivor Services Autumn Update By Cheryl Gee.
"WJCNY works with some of the most vulnerable survivors of domestic violence – undocumented workers. For undocumented workers, barriers to leaving abusive relationships include immigration status, fear of deportation for themselves or family members, language access to systems of care, and cultural barriers in close-knit undocumented communities..."
Autumn update from Outreach and Education, by Irene Sanchez.
"Driving across New York State performing outreach to agricultural workers has its perks: beautiful sunsets, the glaze of snow in the winter, the bloom of the apple trees in the spring and colorful autumn landscapes..."Read more
WJCNY executive director, Lauren Deutsch, has been named in City & State New York magazine's Labor Power 100 - a recognition of the state's most influential labor leaders. “I’m honored to be a part of the team at Worker Justice, building power with the workers who are the foundation of our larger New York community. City and State’s inclusion of our work is deeply gratifying, as is sharing this honor with all the amazing leaders transforming Labor in NY," said Deutsch. In this inaugural year of the magazine feature - its release timed with Labor Day - NY's labor leaders are recognized alongside the many victories won in 2019 impacting the labor movement were also highlighted. WJCNY is proud to have played integral roles in the passage of the Green Light NY legislation and the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act, long-fought battles to win rights for predominately immigrant workers.
WJCNY filed a New York Human Rights Law lawsuit on July 10, 2019 on behalf of Javier Amigon against KTF Enterprises, Inc. and Kirker Enterprises, Inc. in Orange County New York State Supreme Court. Javier Amigon is an individual with a disability with a below the knee left leg amputation and a partial right foot amputation who was a long-term, highly reliable factory worker in Defendants’ international large-scale beauty supplies production and distribution business. Mr. Amigon performed his job responsibilities as a line-worker faithfully for many years while having access to a stool as a reasonable accommodation.
In the summer of 2015, Defendants acquired the company and production facility where Mr. Amigon had served as a long term employee. Shortly thereafter, they callously threw Mr. Amigon’s stool into the garbage and forced him and other employees to stand while performing their job responsibilities. Mr. Amigon pled for continued access to a stool, provided numerous doctors’ notes, and sustained serious injuries while fighting to keep his livelihood during his attempts to work standing up. He was denied this simple and economical accommodation, his doctors’ notes were ignored, he was forced out of work, and he was ultimately terminated on July 11, 2016.
Under New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law 290, et. seq., employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations that enable them to perform the essential functions of their job. The NYSHRL also prohibits employers from discriminating against a qualified individual on the basis of their disability. Click here to read the full complaint.
The WJCNY staff and board are beyond overjoyed this week with some long-overdue legislative wins! The passage of the “Green Light NY” bill permitting access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrant New Yorkers along with the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act were long-overdue victories for NY’s immigrant farmworker communities.
This are historic wins! An estimated seven-hundred fifty-thousand individuals in NY stand to benefit from the life-altering ability to identify oneself with a state-issued I.D, to apply for a driver license and purchase insurance, to access their children's schools, churches, medical appointments, grocery stores, and increase social integration in their communities. The human impact of being able to access driver licenses is immeasurable for NY's immigrant communities.
Further, the estimated eighty-thousand farmworkers who work on New York farms will finally be ensured overtime pay, the right to organize their workplaces and collectively bargain and the right to a day of rest, among other protections. A remnant of the Jim-Crow era, the nearly ninety years of exclusion of farmworkers from these essential labor rights has finally been remedied and the dignity and of the agricultural workforce duly recognized and respected.
WJCNY thanks all of our coalition partners across the state who worked tirelessly for years for passage of these bills. We further express our sincere gratitude to legislative bill sponsors Senators Luis R. Sepúlveda and Jessica Ramos as well as Assembly Members Marcos Crespo and Catherine Nolan and finally, to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership in making NY a place that truly welcomes and embraces our immigrant neighbors and friends.
On June 14, 2019, WJCNY filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York alleging claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act, New York Labor Law, and the New York Real Property Law. The action was filed on behalf of Plaintiff George Hatfield II against Dari Del Inc., Manino Brothers Holdings, LLC, Manino Brothers, Inc. and Samuel A. Manino. Mr. Hatfield served as a manual laborer in Defendants’ profitable Herkimer-based dairy production, processing, distribution and retail businesses.
Mr. Hatfield, who lost his hearing at a young age, was thrilled when he and his wife found an advertisement for dairy work in Central New York. Mr. Hatfield longed for an opportunity to return to Herkimer County where he was born and raised. He didn’t bargain that his return would be conditioned upon exposing himself to severe labor abuses; a grueling seven day, eighty-plus hour work-week schedule and living in unsafe and uninhabitable housing. Throughout the duration of his employment, he was paid less than three dollars per hour while required to live in on-site, overcrowded and substandard housing with his wife and ten-year-old child. He performed a broad range of arduous tasks for Defendants, including non-agricultural work.
Despite his tireless work, Defendants denied Mr. Hatfield basic minimum wage pay, overtime pay, subjected him to unlawful payroll practices, unlawfully deducted wages from his paychecks and committed numerous additional employment and housing law violations. The lawsuit seeks unpaid minimum wage and overtime compensation, statutory liquidated damages, attorneys fees, costs, prejudgment interest, and damages for housing violations, unlawful deductions, spread of hours violations, and inadequate pay notices.
On the matter from WJCNY is staff attorney John Marsella, assisted by paralegal Gabriel Marcano. Click here to read the full complaint.
WJCNY attorneys, representing the plaintiffs in the matter of Bisono et al. v. TDL Restoration et al., won in a jury trial completed on Monday, May 6 following seven days of arguments before the U.S. District Court in White Plains, NY. The jury in this case found in favor of the Plaintiffs, Jose Bisono, Joaquin Vicente and Edgar Mendez, on all questions and awarded the maximum damages permissible for violations of Federal and State labor laws. This is a vindication of the workers' rights and holds their former employer accountable for not paying them their earned wages. Bringing this case was not easy and required tremendous effort from the Plaintiffs, extensive legal work by their attorneys and substantial community support. However, the positive outcome should encourage others who face illegal exploitation to seek justice. Lead WJCNY attorney on the case was legal director Robert McCreanor, joined by WJCNY staff attorneys Maureen Hussain and John Marsella, paralegals Nathalia Rosado-Oliveras and Ken Wolkin, worker rights advocate Cristian Avila and administrative staff Diana Saguilan and Amanda Batista.