WJCNY 2020 Annual Report



Two Thousand and Twenty will be remembered for its test on humanity. Together, we managed economic uncertainty, grief and loss, food insecurity, a tumultuous  election, the pain of our nation’s ongoing racial reckoning, and the inability to commune in person with those we love. Navigating the pandemic as an organization and for those we serve felt endless and, at times, all consuming. Yet, this test also proved our resiliency. We witnessed historic scientific advancements in vaccines, people coming together to wear masks in public, the prevailing power of democracy, and the most fundamental human response to crisis: aid through community. COVID-19 only exacerbated and highlighted the stark disparities immigrant communities and people of color face even in “normal times.”


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NY Farm Laborer Wage Board Refuses to Set 40-Hour Overtime


Recommendation rolls back progress from 2019 legislation, upholds legacy of racial exclusion.



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Activating the Next Generation

Hello, my name is Erika Aguilera and I am a Worker Rights Advocate for WJCNY in the Rochester area.

Back in November, Erin Lantzer, the Instructional Specialist for Webster Central Schools in Webster, NY, asked me to speak with their 5th graders about how WJCNY supports farmworkers in their fight for human rights. Erin mentioned that the 5th graders were learning about human rights and reading the book Esperanza Rising. When I met with the students, we discussed Esperanza and her family’s experience as a wealthy Mexican family who immigrated to California to perform agriculture work during the Great Depression. And we discussed why it is important for groups like WJCNY to fight for the rights of families like Esperanza's.

As someone who grew up in a family of farmworkers, I was very moved to hear these children discuss the rights of agricultural workers and the challenges they face in the workplace. I asked the students about their experiences picking apples in the fall and how they would feel to do that work every day without access to sanitary bathrooms, overtime pay, and in the cold. My heart filled with pride when the children responded, “Why don’t they have better bathrooms? Why does the boss underpay them? Why do they get discriminated against? It’s not right!”

We agree. It’s not right.  


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Notice of Class Action Settlement: Barragan Contreras et al. v. Rosann Landscape Corp. et al., No. 7:17-cv-06453-CS

Preliminary approval has been granted to the $1 million settlement in the class action lawsuit in Barragan Contreras et al. v. Rosann Landscape Corp. et al., Case No. 7:17-cv-06453-CS (S.D.N.Y.). Approximately 80 landscaping workers who were employed by Rosann Landscape between August 2011 and February 2019 are eligible to recover unpaid overtime wages and other damages through this settlement. In order to receive money from the settlement, class members must submit a claim form by June 17, 2021.

For more information about the settlement, including how to file a claim form if you believe you are a member of the class, please click on the below links or call WJCNY at 845-331-6615.


Notice of Settlement

Aviso de Liquidación

Claim Form

Formulario de Reclamacio 

Spring 2021 Development Intern Position Accepting Applicants

WJCNY is now accepting applications for its Spring 2021 Development Internship. Learn more below!

Job Type: Development Internship 

Schedule Type: 2021 Spring (Part-Time) 

Location: Remote 

Job Title:  Development Intern 

Commitment: 10-15 hours a week 

Compensation: Unpaid with Opportunity for College Credits  


Job Description 

The Worker Justice Center of New York (WJCNY) is seeking a Spring Development Intern to work remotely part-time. The Intern will be a part of the Development Program and will work closely with the Development Associate and others in the organization. 

Are you interested in a nonprofit career? Do you like connecting people to the causes they care about? Fundraising may be right up your alley! This internship is a great opportunity for someone who is interested in this field and wants to combine their relationship skills, writing skills, and marketing prowess to their social justice passions. 

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WJCNY seeking a Communications Intern for the Winter and Spring of 2021!

WJCNY is seeking a tech and design savvy intern to join our organization as an intern for the Winter/Spring of 2021. The selected applicant will work closely with our Advocacy and Communications Specialist on both internal communications needs as well as externally for our advocacy commitments.

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'The Profiting From Hate: How Hate Affects Undocumented Immigrants'

Renán Salgado, WJCNY's Anti-Human Trafficking Director, joins Human Rights Coalitions for a special speaker series:

'The Profiting From Hate: How Hate Affects Undocumented Immigrants'.

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Leadership Transition at WJCNY

Dear WJCNY Community,

It’s been an incredible two years, and I have been privileged to be a part of the transformative work that WJCNY does for our NY Community. I am writing to let you know that I have made the difficult decision to move on from the organization, to lead a national organization in working in health equity and advocacy. I am excited about the path ahead, but I also want to thank the amazing team at WJCNY who have worked so hard in the last two years to build the future of the organization with me.

We’re pleased to announce that Diana Saguilán and Andrea Callan, Esq. have accepted the positions of Interim Co-Directors. WJCNY will be in their capable hands while our Board of Directors organizes a search process for our next Executive Director. They have a combined 21 years at WJCNY and oversee the organization’s financial and administrative functions. I am confident in their leadership and collaborative spirit.

I know WJCNY will continue to build a more just future for the workers and families who are the foundation of our society, and while I am leaving the organization, I will continue to be a partner in the work toward equity for all New Yorkers. It’s been an honor to work in community with you - Please stay in touch!

In Solidarity,

Lauren Deutsch, Esq

Executive Director

WJCNY Celebrates Several Legal Wins

WJCNY’s work reflects our belief that all labor is dignified. No worker deserves to be exploited for their labor despite the economic systems and structures designed to send a message to these workers that they are expendable and their labor invaluable. Yet, their labor is valuable, so valuable that employers are endlessly looking for ways to cheat workers of their wages and their dignity. With every client we serve, WJCNY seeks to elevate the intrinsic value of their labor.

Together with our clients, WJCNY has recently secured successful outcomes for hundreds of individuals in litigation matters involving wage theft, illegal discrimination, violations of the H-2A agricultural guest worker program and substandard farmworker housing. WJCNY continues to place special emphasis on serving NY’s thousands of farmworkers in addition to serving workers all along the food chain, including food processing and food service workers. Across these recent legal victories, WJCNY has secured over $2.5 million to be returned to the pockets of workers during this time of dire economic need among the immigrant communities we serve.


In the case of Cardenas et al. v. A.J. Piedimonte Agricultural Development LLC et al., WJCNY obtained a favorable settlement, including $250,000 in compensation, for 48 former employees of an agricultural and food packaging business in Holley, NY who were illegally denied overtime pay, suffered violation of their rights under the regulations governing the H-2A guest worker program and were subjected to unsafe housing conditions. 

This spring, WJCNY filed the first ever private enforcement action, Mein v. Smith Family Farms et al., alleging overtime wage violations for farmworkers since the passage of the Farm Laborer’s Fair Labor Practices Act in 2019 which gave farmworkers the right to overtime. WJCNY obtained a favorable settlement for a farmworker, including payment of owed overtime pay.

Food Processing Workers:

WJCNY obtained a $1.6 million settlement on behalf of nearly 700 current and former employees of New Windsor-based Café Spice {GCT}, Inc.  The case Corea et al. v. Café Spice {GCT}, Inc. et al. addressed our clients’ rights to compensation for unpaid “off the clock” work, illegal pay deductions, and numerous other alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law.

Any current or former employees who would like more information about this settlement should contact the Claims Administrator at 844-329-0033. 

Restaurant Workers:

After a drawn-out legal battle, WJCNY obtained a $900,000 settlement for 11 former employees of the Mount Kisco Diner who brought suit for unpaid wages in the case Morales et al. v. Three Diamond Diner Corp. et al. Claims included racial discrimination and illegal retaliation.  This victory was secured by WJCNY’s legal team after the defendants sought to evade their obligations in a bankruptcy proceeding. 


WJCNY Sues Akima Global Services for Labor Violations at Buffalo Federal Detention Center

WJCNY has filed suit in New York’s Supreme Court against the private, for-profit company, Akima Global Services (AGS), for its exploitation of detained immigrants at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center in Batavia, NY. Plaintiffs Bounam Phimasone and Dalila Yeend allege that, while detained, they were hired by AGS to perform manual labor in the facility. Instead of wages, AGS paid Mr. Phimasone and Ms. Yeend $1 per day in commissary credit, regardless of hours worked.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday afternoon, alleges that AGS’s practice of crediting detainees one dollar per day for many hours of labor violates the New York State Constitution and various provisions of the Labor Law, including minimum wage. It also alleges that AGS unjustly enriched itself through this exploitative practice. AGS contracts with the federal government to operate the Buffalo Federal Detention Center and is paid a daily rate for each bed filled per day. By requiring detainee-employees to perform essential functions at well below the legal minimum wage, AGS avoids hiring non-detained employees to work for fair market wages, thereby depressing the local economy and increasing its own profits.

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