The Legal Aid Society is expanding its Worker Justice Project to Queens.
The initiative combats discrimination faced by workers with arrest or conviction records living in New York City.
Every day employers and licensing agencies unfairly deny qualified individuals the opportunity to work because of pending charges, past convictions, and even sealed or dismissed cases.
This discrimination prevents countless New Yorkers from maintaining financial stability and supporting their families, and further disenfranchises people of color already subjected to discriminatory employment practices and the racist administration of criminal justice, according to Legal Aid.
The Worker Justice Project advises Legal Aid’s Criminal Defense Practice staff on the employment consequences of criminal case dispositions in order to minimize harm to clients’ job opportunities. The Project also enforces the rights of workers who are unlawfully denied jobs or licenses because of arrest or conviction records by representing workers in administrative proceeding, pre-litigation advocacy, and affirmative litigation. Finally, the Project challenges government policies that create barriers to employment and advocates for legislative solutions to effect systematic change.
“The Worker Justice Project provides crucial and life-changing services to New Yorkers with arrest or conviction records by helping them fight discrimination and break down unjust barriers to emploment,” The Legal Aid Society Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice Tina Luongo said. “All New Yorkers who have come in contact with the criminal legal system should be afforded the opportunity to be productive members of their community, and we’re proud to now have these critical legal services available for Queens residents.”
The Project hired Megumi Saito to lead Queens efforts, joining staff attorneys Melissa Ader and Joshua Carrin who currently work out of Legal Aid’s Manhattan and Brooklyn trial offices, respectively, as well as legal fellow Caroline Lowry and paralegal case handler Tiffany Pesante. Megumi first joined The Legal Aid Society in 2010 as an intern while attending the City College of New York and she returned to Legal Aid in 2014 as a trial attorney in its Queens Criminal Defense Practice.
For more information contact the Worker Justice Project at WorkerJustice@legal-aid.org or 888-663-6880.