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Employment Law Unit
Worker Justice Project
When the city shut down in March, the phones began to ring nonstop. New Yorkers inundated our telephone helplines: worried about unemployment insurance, receiving their last few paychecks after losing their jobs, or going to work with a sick loved one at home. Overnight, the Employment Law Unit, which traditionally handles cases involving wage theft, workplace discrimination, family and medical leave, labor trafficking, along with unemployment insurance, became an emergency practice.
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.
The efforts of our Employment Law Unit ensure hardworking New Yorkers can earn a living wage and participate in the economy on equal footing.
Low-wage workers assisted last year.
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.
In unemployment insurance benefits preserved last year.
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Last Updated: 19 July 2021
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