Legal Aid Society

Upholding Workers' Rights

We stand with hardworking New Yorkers to ensure they can earn a living wage and participate in the economy on equal footing.

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Every day, in courthouses and communities across the city, we advocate for the rights of all New Yorkers. Learn more about the services we provide.

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Making a Difference

Projects, Units & Initiatives

Our specialized teams have experience working on nearly every area of law that impacts New Yorkers. Explore the ways we fight on behalf of clients and communities.

OUR PARTNER WORK

Fighting for Unpaid Wages

Richard Blum, a staff attorney in our Employment Law Unit, along with former members of the unit, students at CUNY Law School’s Main Street Legal Services, and attorneys at Arnold & Porter LLP collaborated with Adhikaar, the Nepali worker center, to work with 23 clients trying to claim unpaid wages from their former employer, an owner of a chain of gas stations across Long Island.

For years, many of these employees were not paid the minimum wage, were denied overtime pay, and saw illegal deductions from their weekly wages. Some employees, who often worked over 80 hours each week, never received any payment for their work.

Thankfully, after years of work, we won an incredible settlement of $285,000 for our clients in bankruptcy court. Richard and his clients celebrated their victory when he distributed checks to a group of workers who for too long were taken advantage of by their employer.

Interpreter Dhani Ram Sapkota, Richard Blum, and Narbada Chhetri, Director of Organizing & Programs at Adhikaar  

Our Impact

Enabling Legally Innocent New Yorkers to Work and Support their Families

The Worker Justice Project of the Legal Aid Society successfully lobbied the New York City Council to amend the New York City Fair Chance Act. The amendment, which went into effect in July 2021, gives workers the opportunity to retain and obtain employment while they fight a pending criminal case. 

In approximately 80% of adult criminal cases in New York City, the person charged is never convicted of a crime. Before the Fair Chance Act Amendment, these New Yorkers were unable to support themselves or their families during the pendency of the criminal legal process.  

Since the amendment went into effect, the Worker Justice Project has represented dozens of clients who were unlawfully suspended, fired, or denied employment due to a pending criminal case. Due to our representation, our clients have returned to work and received backpay for the period of unlawful discrimination. The return to the workplace has enabled our clients to support themselves and their families—and to provide high-quality services to the communities in which they work.

By the Numbers

The efforts of our Employment Law Unit ensure hardworking New Yorkers can earn a living wage and participate in the economy on equal footing.

1,100

Low-wage workers assisted last year.

$22,281,481

Secured in retroactive benefits, amounts the recipient should have received but for agency error, equaling an average of $415 in ongoing monthly benefits for clients.

$839,000

In unemployment insurance benefits preserved last year.

A contribution to The Legal Aid Society is about more than money.

Every donation helps us offer essential legal services to thousands of everyday New Yorkers, helping people buy food, pay rent, and care for themselves and their families.

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