Legal Representation for New York City's Chinese Immigrant Workers
Aaron Halegua, "Legal Representation for New York City's Chinese Immigrant Workers," in Samuel Estreicher and Joy Radice, eds., Beyond Elite Law: Access to Civil Justice in America (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
18 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2015 Last revised: 19 May 2016
Date Written: 2016
This chapter explores the challenges that keep Chinese immigrant workers from retaining legal counsel and how various organizations work to overcome those obstacles. The first part of this chapter briefly introduces New York City’s population of Chinese immigrant workers. In the next section, I describe some of the roadblocks that exist in a worker’s long path from being in an exploitative workplace to seeking out a lawyer to address these legal violations and then filing a lawsuit. While finding a willing lawyer is sometimes a challenge, the greatest obstacles are often those that keep workers from ever seeking legal help in the first place, such as limited knowledge about their legal rights and a fear of retaliation. In the third section, I discuss how various “intermediate institutions” such as worker centers and social service organizations help to overcome some of these challenges. The chapter concludes with my reflections on the strengths and limitations of such institutions.
Keywords: worker centers, Chinese immigrants, employment law, labor law, legal aid, retaliation, wage and hour, discrimination, low-wage workers, immigrant workers, access to justice
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