NAVAJO TRUCK DRIVERS SEEK ORDER DETERMINING COERCIVE CONTRACT PROVISIONS ARE ILLEGAL AND UNENFORCEABLE: Boswinkle v. Navajo Express, Inc.

Complaint alleges that the “loser pays provision” and “class waiver” in truck drivers’ contract with Navajo Express are illegal and unenforceable.

Two truck drivers are asking a Colorado court to declare that two provisions of their contract are unenforceable. The workers allege that the “class waiver” and “loser pays provision” they challenge are designed to, and in fact do, prevent workers from holding Navajo Express accountable for legal violations, including misclassifying their workers as independent contractors. Far too often employers pack contracts with illegal terms designed to chill their workers from coming forward to report violations and recover unpaid wages. Towards Justice is proud to represent these workers, along with partners at The Kelman Buescher Firm, P.C.

Case Documents:

Complaint

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Workers Seek Order Forcing OSHA to Intervene to Protect Them from COVID-19: Jane Does I, II, III, et al v. Eugene Scalia, in his official capacity as United States Secretary of Labor

Workers at the Maid-Rite Specialty Foods facility and Friends of Farmworkers, Inc. d/b/a Justice at Work, in its capacity as the workers’ authorized employee representative, allege that Maid-Rite’s practices endanger their safety on a daily basis. These practices include configuring the production line in such a way that workers cannot social distance, failing to provide cloth face coverings, failing to provide adequate hand-washing opportunities, creating incentives for workers to attend work sick, and rotating workers from other facilities in a way that increases the risk of spreading the virus.

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Complaint Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Food Chain Workers Alliance, et al v. Tyson Foods, Inc., et al

Towards Justice along with legal partners Public Justice and Nichols Kaster filed a Title VI complaint against meat processing corporations for their alleged racially discriminatory practices. This complaint asks the Office of Civil Rights to investigate disparate impact & treatment of Black, Latino and Asian meat processing workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. (more…)

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Protecting Supply Chain Workers during COVID-19: Derrick Palmer, et al. v. Amazon.com, Inc., et al

Our clients allege that Amazon’s operations at its JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island, NY are inconsistent with state law and public health guidance. We allege that Amazon’s conduct has contributed to the spread of COVID-19 among workers at the plant and in their communities. Dozens of workers have already gotten sick and at least one has died. The plaintiffs seek an injunction to force Amazon to comply with public health guidance. (more…)

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Protecting Supply Chain Workers during COVID-19: Rural Community Workers Alliance, et al v. Smithfield Foods, Inc., et al

Working on a supply chain is an essential task during this pandemic.It is also essential that corporations engaged in the supply chain production take basic steps to protect their workers from the spread of COVID-19. Some employers are doing things right. Unfortunately, many workers in supply chain work —farmworkers, slaughterhouse workers, warehouse workers, grocery workers, delivery drivers, restaurant workers, and many others—continue to be required to report to work under conditions that directly conflict with CDC guidance and state and local public health orders. These conditions include failing to restructure the workplace to allow for social distancing at work, failing to encourage sick leave for workers who fall ill, and failing to provide protective equipment or sufficient hand-washing opportunities.

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CALIFORNIA MULTI-LEVEL MARKETING WORKER SEEKS PENALTIES AGAINST AMWAY: Orage v. Amway Corp. et al.

In a complaint filed in California state court, a former Independent Business Owner (“IBO”) alleges that Amway failed to pay him and other workers minimum wages, provide them with the tools needed to do their job, and maintain appropriate employment records. The plaintiff seeks civil penalties on behalf of himself and other California workers under California’s Private Attorneys General Act.

Multi-level marketing (MLM) companies often employ workers as independent contractors, allowing them to avoid paying IBOs fair wages, workers compensation insurance and additional employee benefits.  Not only do MLMs often avoid paying the costs of having employees, but they also profit by charging IBOs fees and pressuring IBOs to make product purchases. Although Amway bills itself as a direct sales company, the suit alleges that IBOs spend the vast majority of their time trying to recruit new IBOs to Amway, and make few if any product sales.

Case Documents:

Complaint

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FLIGHT ATTENDANTS CHALLENGE FAILURE TO ACCOMMODATE PREGNANT AND BREASTFEEDING PARENTS: Hodgkins, et. al v. Frontier Airlines, Inc.

Complaint alleges that Frontier Airlines failed to accommodate pregnant and breastfeeding flight attendants. Plaintiffs seek damages and policy changes.

Four flight attendants are suing Frontier Airlines for discriminating against pregnant and nursing flight attendants. They allege that Frontier subjected them to risk of disciplinary action for necessary pregnancy-related absences and eventually forced them onto unpaid leave when they were no longer able to fly, with no possibility of receiving accommodations that would have enabled them to continue working. They further allege that although Frontier offered no paid parental leave and only a short unpaid leave following childbirth, Frontier nonetheless refused to provide or even consider accommodations relating to breastfeeding, leaving Plaintiffs with a choice between continuing to breastfeed or continuing to earn a paycheck. Plaintiffs seek damages and ask that Frontier change its discriminatory policies.

This case is part of a broader fight to ensure that pregnant and breastfeeding parents have equal access to the workforce. Towards Justice is proud to represent these workers, along with co-counsel from the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU, the ACLU of Colorado, and Holwell Shuster & Goldberg, LLP.

Case Documents:

Complaint

Press Coverage:

NPR: Flight Attendants, Pilots Say Frontier Discriminated Against New Moms

The Denver Post: Group of female pilots, flight attendants file discrimination lawsuits against Frontier Airlines

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FORMER PENNSYLVANIA CIVIL DETAINEES COMBAT FORCED LABOR: Burrell v. Lackawanna Recycling Center, Inc. et al.

Complaint charges that civilly detained child support debtors are forced to work in dangerous recycling center for $5.00 a day. Former detainees are asking for damages and a change of policy.

Three former civil detainees of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania filed a proposed class action complaint alleging that the County, the private company that owns and operates the Lackawanna County Recycling Center, and other private and public defendants forced hundreds of child support debtors in Lackawanna County to work at the Recycling Center for $5.00 per day under atrocious conditions. The Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants extracted their nearly-free labor by requiring them to work in the Center as a condition of eligibility for work release programs, under which they would have been able to earn money to support their children. The alleged conduct, which Plaintiffs allege violates vital protections against slavery and indentured servitude, allowed public agencies and private corporations and their owners to reap profits from the labor of captive and exploited workers. Plaintiffs are seeking damages and asking that the Defendants change their policy.

This case is part of a broader fight against forced and coerced labor in the criminal and civil justice systems. Towards Justice is proud to support these former detainees, along with co-counsel from Community Justice Project and Handley Farah & Anderson.

Case Documents

Complaint

Press Release: Former Detainees Challenge Forced Labor Practices

Press:

The Times Tribune: LACKAWANNA COUNTY SUED OVER USE OF PRISONERS AT RECYCLING CENTER

The Times Tribune: TRASH FOR CASH, County solicitor: Halting of inmate labor at recycling center won’t impact pending lawsuit

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Fighting Forced Labor in Private Immigrant Detention Centers: Menocal et al v. GEO Group Inc.

Towards Justice fights to end labor trafficking whether in the form of individualized cruelty or systemic, structural coercion. In 2014, together with co-counsel, Towards Justice filed a class action lawsuit against the GEO Group, Inc. (GEO), which operates a 1,500 bed immigrant detention facility in Aurora, CO.

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Fighting Wage Suppression for Childcare Workers on Au Pair Visas: Beltran, et al v. Interexchange, Inc., et al

Towards Justice attacks systemic injustices that undermine the bargaining power and working conditions of marginalized workers. In 2014, Towards Justice filed a case on behalf of a nationwide class of tens of thousands of childcare workers who worked in the U.S. on J-1 au pair visas.

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In The Courtroom

Our litigators help workers advance legal claims that address systemic injustice. We use antitrust, anti-slavery, fraud, wage-and-hour, and common-law challenges to address the wide variety of practices that nickel-and-dime low-wage workers out of their hard-earned wages. We have represented a hundred thousand childcare workers alleging wage suppression, tens of thousands of immigrant detainees alleging forced labor, and hundreds of construction workers, shepherds, manicurists, janitors, and kitchen hood cleaners. We are leaders in challenging anti-competitive practices that reduce worker bargaining power and support marginalized people who challenge structural impediments to their advancement.

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