The Problem

Immigrant New Yorkers face pressing challenges at work: low wages, dangerous working conditions, harassment and discrimination, and a hostile climate for workplace organizing. Wage theft continues at epidemic levels in New York, impacting millions of workers each year. There are few workplace safety programs available in Spanish, despite high demand. Fear of retaliation keeps many from speaking out against injustice.

Meanwhile, government labor agencies remain under-resourced, crippling their ability to adequately address the full scope of the workplace exploitation experienced by immigrant workers.

See the Solution
The Solution

Make the Road New York fights for the rights of all workers.

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

MRNY trains hundreds of workers every year on critical health and safety issues and rights, and provides 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. MRNY confronts systemic abuses in high violation industries. We expose these abuses, which include environmental hazards, and help workers to secure the wages they are owed.

Our on-the-ground experience enables us to draft policy, such as the New York State Wage Theft prevention Act of 2010, the strongest law of its kind in the U.S. MRNY also helped to win an NYC paid sick day law that covers 1.5 million workers, and successfully advocated for a state minimum wage increase.

in unlawfully withheld wages recouped
Fast Facts
  • MRNY won $15 million in back wages and damages for exploited workers.
  • In 2014, we won a $3.9M settlement from John Lage and Associates, one of the most delinquent employers in the NYC car wash industry.
  • 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, which seemed impossible only a few years ago.
  • We worked with allies to secure a $2.50 increase in the tipped minimum wage for hospitality workers.
  • We continue to build the case for aggressive enforcement of the newly expanded Wage Theft Prevention Act by monitoring existing cases that are being handled by the NYS Department of Labor (NYSDOL).
  • In the last year, our attorneys closed 219 cases addressing workplace injustice, benefitting 328 individuals.
Meet Marco

MARCO JACAL, Member of MRNY’s Workplace Justice Committee

For workers like Marco Jacal, an immigrant from Mexico City, the Wage Theft Protection Act means an end to silence about workplace abuse. Marco worked for years at Veranda, a trendy lounge in Manhattan’s West Village, where he was paid below minimum wage and denied lawful overtime compensation. With MRNY’s help, Marco and his co-workers filed a complaint against Veranda’s management, who retaliated by firing the workers. Thanks to the WTPA, MRNY was able to bring Marco’s case to the State Attorney General. Under the provisions of the WTPA, the Attorney General’s office ordered Veranda to pay restitution to all employees that had been withheld wages and overtime, as well as compensate Marco and his coworkers for the retaliation they suffered.

Stand with us in the fight for workplace justice!

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