Despite their pivotal role in the U.S. economy, immigrant workers confront daily challenges in the labor force: language barriers, exploitative working conditions, immigration status vulnerabilities, and restrictions in access to public services and benefits.
Across the country, those striving to earn a decent living in the restaurant, garment, domestic work, and construction industries–many from Asian and Latino communities–work under sweatshop conditions. These new immigrants are forced to work in low-paying and exploitative industries, many for 70 to 100 hours a week without receiving minimum wage or overtime pay. In many instances, they work for months without being paid by unscrupulous factory owners or bosses, and have limited access to information about their rights.
For more than 45 years, AALDEF has employed innovative legal strategies to enforce labor laws, and has won millions of dollars in back wages and overtime pay for low-wage immigrant workers and secured federal rulings that have expanded the ability of workers to hold their employers accountable. AALDEF collaborates with community groups to educate low-wage Asian immigrant workers about their legal rights and conduct litigation, legal advocacy, community-based research and media outreach that facilitates organizing and enables workers to secure their rightful wages.
In January 2018, AALDEF will begin to hold monthly meetings to encourage advocates and activists to collaborate on strategies to protect the rights of gig-workers. The new Gig-Economy Worker Taskforce, led by AALDEF Skadden Fellow Audrey Winn in collaboration with Mel Gonzalez, Equal Justice Works Fellow at Make The Road, will address such problems as wage theft, digital isolation, misclassification, forced arbitration, and lack of benefits.