Low-Wage Workers

Abusive employer practices and stagnant wages prevent many workers, even those able to find full-time employment, from earning a living wage. Wage theft is rampant: all too often, employers violate labor and employment laws by failing to pay the minimum wage for all hours worked, refusing to pay overtime, or classifying employees as independent contractors to avoid laws that protect workers. These violations disproportionally affect women, people of color, and immigrants. Women make up the majority of the low-wage workforce, while people of color and immigrants are similarly overrepresented in low-paying jobs and industries. Further, many workers are excluded from the protections afforded by labor and employment law, including health and safety standards and freedom from discrimination.

NCLEJ  provides litigation support and advocacy to improve conditions and fight for more just policies.

Successes include NCLEJ’s groundbreaking litigation, advocacy, and strategic partnerships.

NCLEJ’s report, Designed to Exclude: New York’s Failure to Provide Compensation and Language Access to Unemployed Workers, details the New York State Department of Labor’s failure during the COVID-19 pandemic to make unemployment insurance accessible to workers who have limited English proficiency. As unemployment skyrocketed, many were denied benefits, turned to food banks, resorted to homeless shelters, and went hungry. Community organizations became the only access point to unemployment benefits for New York’s 2.5 million workers with limited English proficiency. Read the report in English and Spanish.

NCLEJ secured protection against sexual harassment for workfare workers, that is, individuals, often women and people of color, who work in exchange for their welfare benefits without receiving any wages for such work. In New Mexico, NCLEJ helped farmworkers win inclusion in the state’s workers compensation system from which they had been historically excluded.

NCLEJ is also a part of the Equal Pay Today! Campaign, launched on the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act by national and state-based women’s rights organizations. The campaign calls for an end to the gender wage gap that persists in nearly every industry and profession in the country. This gap varies by state and city, by education level and occupation, and is magnified for Black and Latinx women. In addition, NCLEJ advocates for critical work supports as health benefits, food stamps, and child care for working families.

NCLEJ partners with worker centers and other advocates across the country to secure fair wages and create safe and dignified workplaces for low-wage workers. We welcome opportunities for new collaborations. Feel free to contact us.