Exploited at the Intersection: A Critical Race Feminist Analysis of Undocumented Latina Workers and the Role of the Private Attorney General
38 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2015 Last revised: 10 Dec 2015
Date Written: September 1, 2015
Undocumented Latina workers experience wage theft and other workplace exploitation at alarmingly high rates. The stock stories associated with immigrant workers often involve male day laborers or female domestic workers and fail to capture the experiences of women toiling in the farms, restaurants, factories, and home and business cleaning services that employ hundreds of thousands of immigrant women. The resulting invisibility of undocumented Latina women in the typical narratives parallels the paucity of undocumented Latina workers who make legal claims against their exploitative employers. Their distinct experiences are characterized by multiple intersecting vulnerabilities based upon their ethnicity, gender, and immigration status. Their vulnerability and their responses to workplace exploitation must also be understood with the context of intra-cultural narratives that complicate or discourage their ability to pursue their rights.
This Article applies a critical race feminist analysis to the workplace exploitation of undocumented Latina workers by exploring cultural narratives that may impact how workers experience workplace exploitation and how they respond to exploitation. It posits that a critical race feminism lens permits us to better identify, analyze, and construct potential solutions to the lack of claims-making by undocumented Latina workers. Given the importance of private enforcement of this country’s wage and hour statutes, this Article positions private attorneys general, and their role as storytellers, as critical to the enforcement of Latina workers’ rights and argues that the collaboration of organizations and attorneys is necessary to achieve that end.
Keywords: critical race theory, employment, critical race feminism, immigrant justice
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