The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and YKASECEmpowering the Korean American Communitys Korean Workers Project today announced the publication of the Workers Guide to New York Small Claims Court, the first-ever Korean-language booklet on New York City’s Small Claims Courts system. The 12-page, full-color publication is designed to provide a concise yet comprehensive look at the entire Small Claims Court system in New York City for the Korean-speaking layperson.
Unlike state or federal civil courts, the Small Claims Court system permits any individual with a claim totaling $5,000 or less to file a case without an attorney. Workers owed back wages, overtime, or other compensation for damages, are able to have their cases heard and a judgment rendered in Small Claims Court all within only a few months time.
Low-wage workers in the Citys Korean American community often face serious, unlawful labor violations in which they are not properly paid minimum wage or overtime, but they are often not aware of their rights and options. In-language materials are a critical need: a 2006 Korean Workers Project study by AALDEF and YKASEC found among that 94% of low-wage Korean American workers in the New York metropolitan area are limited English proficient. The Workers Guide includes a step by step description of eligibility and the application process for Small Claims Court, preparation for ones case, what to do on the court date, and how to collect ones money after the court judgment has finally been made.
Said AALDEF Staff Attorney and Korean Workers Project Director Steven Choi, “Too many workersday laborers, waiters, nail salon workersare not paid their proper wages. This guide will help Korean workers to go to small claims court to fight for their rights and get their unpaid wages without having to hire an attorney.”
The Workers Guide is available free of charge at either YKASEC’s office in Flushing, AALDEF’s Manhattan office, and at other Korean community organizations across the city. It may also be downloaded from AALDEFs website here. The guide was made possible by a generous grant from the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation.
The Korean Workers Project provides traditional direct legal services free of charge to low-wage Korean immigrant workers through AALDEF, in conjunction with YKASECEmpowering the Korean American Community, and offers community education and outreach efforts. By combining these two approaches, the Korean Workers Project seeks to protect the rights of Korean immigrant workers and to help them achieve social and economic justice.