The Workers’ Rights Clinic (WRC) will be offered for the first time as a pilot in the Fall of 2020. Clinic faculty are in the process of developing an array of options for project work in collaboration with community groups, advocacy groups, and governmental bureaus charged with enforcement of labor rights.
Some preliminary ideas for project work include participation in policy reform efforts at the city level or the state level. Other projects might include support for worker and community organizations attempting to expand and protect workers’ rights to organize; public outreach, education and organizing, including the creation of know your rights materials addressed to labor rights and the rights of immigrant workers; undertaking empirical investigations and producing reports that document exploitative labor practices and propose reform measures.
Prior to Fall 2020, the Community Economic Development Clinic housed a “Labor Docket” which took on the two federal wage theft lawsuits that will now be part of WRC’s work.
The WRC is also co-counsel in two wage theft cases pending in the Eastern District of New York.
Plaintiffs in Vazquez v. 142 Knickerbocker Enterprise are former employees of a Brooklyn carwash. The clinic received this case from Make the Road during a citywide organizing effort. Plaintiffs filed suit in 2013, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law, including failure to pay the minimum wage or overtime, tip theft, and retaliation. The district court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment on two claims, leaving six claims to be resolved at trial a that will be scheduled after the Second Circuit resolves Defendant’s appeal of summary judgment. If the trial takes place sometime during the Fall semester, students may participate in the preparation and presentation. Co-counsel in this case is Catholic Migration Services (including a CUNY alum who worked on the case as a clinic student).
Plaintiffs in Baniya v. Keshtgar are former employees of a gas station chain. (A case description is here.) The clinic received this case from Adhikaar, a community organization in Queens, and is co-counsel with the Legal Aid Society and Arnold & Porter. Last year Plaintiffs obtained a $1.9 million confession of judgment from the main defendant. The task now is to collect on the judgment, in part through post-judgment discovery of the defendant’s assets.