The Problem

New York’s immigrant workers face heightened levels of abuse.

Corporations commonly use “forced arbitration” clauses to prevent employees from defending their rights. Other employers misclassify workers as independent contractors to skirt labor laws. Still, others steal wages or force workers to labor in hazardous conditions.

Meanwhile, state labor policies don’t adequately protect the most vulnerable workers — such as tipped workers (like restaurant servers) who still earn a sub-minimum wage — and government agencies are too under-resourced to enforce the laws that are on the books. 

See the Solution
The Solution

Fighting for the rights of all workers

MRNY workplace justice efforts include organizing for workers’ rights, health and safety education and support, and policy and systems change. We have worker organizing committees in Brooklyn, Queens, and Suffolk and Nassau counties that meet weekly for leadership training, campaign planning, and mutual support.

We train hundreds of workers every year on critical health and safety issues and rights, and provide legal support when workers confront violations on the job. Every year, the MRNY legal team helps thousands of workers to recover unpaid wages, access workers compensation benefits, and address health and safety violations. We also confront systemic abuses in high violation industries. Combining our multiple strategies, we expose these abuses, which include environmental hazards, and help workers to secure the wages they are owed.

Our day-to-day work teaches us how laws actually work on the ground and enables us to innovate enforceable policies, such as the New York State Wage Theft prevention Act of 2010, the strongest law of its kind in the U.S. We also designed and helped to win an NYC paid sick day law that covers 1.5 million workers, and successfully advocated for a state minimum wage increase.

$
10
million+
in unlawfully withheld wages recouped
Fast Facts
  • Our organizing with allies resulted in passage of the NYC Car Wash Accountability Act which is starting to transform one of the most highly exploitative industries in NYC.
  • In 2014, working with the Attorney General, we won a massive $3.9 million settlement from one of the most notorious  employers in the city.
  • We mobilized thousands of low-wage workers to help win a $15 minimum wage for workers in New York City, Westchester, and Long Island, a historic victory for nearly 1.5 million working families.
  • New York City’s paid sick days law, a far-reaching policy that we won with allies, ensures that over a million workers can now take paid time to care for themselves or a sick child.
Meet Marco

For immigrant workers like Marco Jacal, the Wage Theft Protection Act — a policy that MRNY helped design and elevate — means an end to silence about workplace abuse. Marco worked for years at Veranda, a trendy lounge in Manhattan, where he was paid below minimum wage and denied overtime compensation. With our help, Marco and his co-workers filed a complaint against Veranda’s management, who retaliated by firing the workers.  The State Attorney General used innovative new remedies from the Wage Theft Prevention Act to bring Marco’s employer to justice, sending a strong public message to New York’s employers. Veranda had to pay restitution to all employees that had been denied wages and overtime, as well as compensate Marco and his coworkers for the retaliation.

Stand with us in the fight for workplace justice!

Related Press

The New York Times

Stiffing Workers on Wages Grows Worse With Recession

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Times Union

Commentary: Lawmakers must act to protect workers from wage theft

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