Justice for Job Seekers has become a reality. We thank Senator Jeffrey Klein and Assemblymember Francisco Moya for being our champions and for their relentless commitment to our communities and to this bill. This was a grassroots community effort and we are very thankful for all of our community members that led this fight, to all of our coalition partners and to our allies for their support throughout this campaign (see full list below).
This transformative campaign was born from the experiences of NICE members who suffered at the hands of predatory and fraudulent employment agencies. Agencies that charged hundreds of dollars for job placements that never come through. After forming a worker committee to address this problem, NICE members began to educate immigrant workers on their rights as consumers through popular education techniques. They also began to meet with decision-makers and other community groups to come up with a legislative solution to this problem.
Here are some key accomplishments of the campaign over the past 3 years:
- NICE convened and led statewide coalition of over 30 organizations
- Drafted legislation in partnership with directly impacted community members, community organizations, advocacy and policy groups, elected officials and their staff
- Released an investigative report into employment agencies with our Sponsors, Senator Klein and Assembl
ymember Moya “Dreams and Schemes in Queens, New York: Immigrant Struggles to Find Work and Get Status in the Face of Consumer Fraud”
- Graphic novel written by NICE members, “Ana Busca Trabajo” (Ana Looks For Work), aimed at educating the community on how to avoid falling prey to employment agencies.
- Over 3,850 copies of “Ana Busca Trabajo” novel distributed to community members.
- Published “Ana Busca Trabajo” on El Diario La Prensa, the largest Spanish language daily in NYC with a distribution of over 35,600.
- NICE members wrote, produced and performed a play based on the “Ana Busca Trabajo” graphic novel
- Governor Cuomo included Justice for Job Seekers in his Opportunity Agenda
- Supported the drafting of NYC Department of Consumer Affairs “Job Hunters’ Bill of Rights” and “Consumer tips when using an employment agency”
- NICE convened Justice for Job Seekers Albany Day with coalition partners
- Fueled the issuing of subpoenas by DCA to employment agencies to investigate their recordkeeping and sparked Attorney General investigations and settlements with fraudulent employment agencies
- Media coverage from New York Times, El Diario la Prensa, New York Daily News, Telemundo, Univision, NY Post, Al Jazeera, NY1, El Diario de Mexico, Queens Latino, Legislative Gazette, and many others.
A.10672/S.8102 will curb prevalent consumer fraud in the employment agency industry among low-wage workers by eliminating the advance fee exception and by strengthening enforcement. The new law will protect vulnerable job seekers throughout the entire state of New York. Over 400 licensed employment agencies exist in the state, with the majority of them operating in the five boroughs, Long Island, and Westchester County. However, many more unlicensed agencies operate through the state in violation of state laws.
The bill will specifically:
1) Deter employment agency abuse by amending the General Business law to eliminate the advance fee exception and no longer allow employment agencies to charge low-wage workers (Class A; A1) a fee before placing them in a job. Class A and A1 workers are the only class of workers subject to advance fees under current law. The bill’s reforms would provide low-wage workers the same protections afforded to all other workers, who may only be charged a fee after an agency has secured them a job.
2) Strengthen enforcement by targeting repeat offenders and increasing penalties against violation employment agencies. These changes will bring New York up to part with other states like New Jersey, Illinois, Nevada, and Hawaii so as to provide a greater and more effective deterrent against employment agency abuse. Furthermore, it would direct the New York State Department of Labor and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs to publish forms in multiple languages and would allow the Office of New Americans to accept, process and refer complaints. This bill would also grant enforcement authority to the Attorney General.
3) Creates new avenues for relief for victims of fraud living outside of New York City by granting the Office of New Americans (ONA) authority to process complaints and refer cases to the appropriate state agencies. A trusted office among immigrants with strong community presence in various areas of the state, ONA will improve access to state enforcement agencies for a marginalized population that typically faces many barriers to coming forward and exercising their rights.
The existing laws make it exceedingly difficult for low-wage job seekers to hold employment agencies accountable. All too often, unscrupulous employment agencies, both licensed and unlicensed, exploit job seekers by flouting the law or tailoring their practices to take advantage of loopholes in the current law. What makes this more appalling is that they prey on a particularly vulnerable population: women and men seeking work, so they can provide for themselves and their families. The Justice for Job Seekers bill will make it harder for unscrupulous employment agencies to continue functioning with impunity and will ensure that all job seekers in New York State are protected.
Special thanks to:
Mertz Gilmore Foundation; North Star Fund; The NY Women’s Foundation; Assemblyman Franciso Moya; Senator Jeffrey Klein; Senator Diane Savino; Alphonso David (Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo); Elizabeth De León Bhargava (Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo); Meghan Tadio and Elyse Seener (Office of Assemblyman Franciso Moya), Dana Caratenudo, Michael Blaustein, Steven Casscles, Kyle Pero, Wes Kirby (Office of Senator Jeffrey Klein/IDC) Bryan Clenahan (Office of Senator Diane Savino); Jorge Montalvo (NYS Department of State), Laura Gonzalez Murphy (Office for New Americans); Amit Bagga, Mary Cooley, Marla Tepper (NYC Department of Consumer Affairs); NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and AG’s Office for Civil Rights; Alice Davis (Catholic Migration Services); Alexa Kasdan and Nasoan Sheftel-Gomes (Urban Justice Center Community Development Project); Laura Huizar (LatinoJustice PRLDF now at NELP); Joe Canovas and Arelis Tavares (AFL-CIO); Gonzalo Carreon Cruz (Don Bosco Workers Center); Alex Gomez (La Fuente, now with UFT); Lucia Gomes (La Fuente now with Liuna Local 78); Laura Huizar (LatinoJustice PRLDF); Diana Marin (UJC); Stephanie Mulcock (Cidadao Global); Charlene Obernauer (NYCOSH); Susan Shin (New Economy Project); Haeyoung Yoon (NELP); Maureen LaMar (NYCOSH now with CUNY Murphy School); Narbada Chhetri (Adhikaar); Lowell Barton (Liuna Local 1010); Rosanna Aran (Laundry Workers Center); Virgilio Aran (Laundry Workers Center); John Garcia (LatinoJustice PRLDEF); Kazi Fouzia (DRUM); Rachel McCoullough (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice); Rev. Terry Troi (El Centro del Immigrante); Joyce Campbell-Gill (Domestic Workers United); Patricia Francois (Domestic Workers United); Beverly Grayson (Domestic Workers United); Christine Lewis (Domestic Workers United); Liliam Juarez (Workplace Project); Ann Heekim (Don Bosco Workers Center); Mahoma Lopez (Laundry Workers Center); Maurilio Ortega (Laundry Workers Center); Sen. Gustavo Rivera, Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, Maggie Williams (Advocacy Institute); Camille Mackler, Steve Choi, Murad Murad Awawdeh (NYIC); Lauren Elfant (UJC now with Human Rights Commission); Joanna Cuevas (LatinoJustice PRLDF); Dominique Hernandez, Andrea Shapiro, Sarah Austin, Emma Almon (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice); Lauren Elfant (UJC now with Human Rights Commission); Joanna Cuevas (LatinoJustice PRLDF) David Osorno; Keren Soffer (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice); Past NICE staff: Valeria Treves (The Lift Fund); Jessica Garcia (RWDSU) Jennie Encalada; Adriana Escandon, Jennifer Munoz; Current NICE staff: Manuel Castro, Karla Rosero-Khan, Christina Fox, Charlie Uruchima, Maritza Ortiz, Diego Martinez, Adrian Esparza; NICE Board of Directors: Alicia Portada (Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union); Ana María Bazán, Esq.; Charlene Obernauer (New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health- NYCOSH); Danny Rojas (General Assembly); Julissa Gutierrez (Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo); Prerana Reddy (Queens Museum of Art; Luis Gomez (Workers United).
NICE Members who contributed to the campaign:
Catalina Antonio, Jesus Bueno, Jesus Morelo, Maria Luisa, Manuel Medina Noe Cordero, Octavio Monrroy, Rosa Pauta, Aura Maria Botero, Jose Reino, Iris Avendano, Felicia Bogado, Dilia Ruiz, Rosa Guaman, Luis Moreno, Adam Yuquilema, Oyuki Valencia, Maribel Diaz,\ Luis Sanchez, Oswaldo Mendoza, Patricia Diaz, Milton Landi, Adriana Ariza, Juan Nolasco, Mildred Burgos, Cesar Valdez, Laura Rojas, Eduardo Redwood, Juan Rivera, Leo Fast, Guillermo Cortez, Thommy Garcia, Ana Martinez, Luis Edwin Vargas, Segundo Gordillo, Adrian Villaroel, Jaime Rogel, Francisco Rosales, Guillermo Serrano, Jose Pena, Astor Jovel, Omar Trinidad, Mari Leon, Viviana Silva, Jesus Bueno, Adriana Ariza, Lorena Ortiz, Maria Garces, Carlos Rojas, Abelardo Muyulema, Francelina Guerrero, Gerardo Abad, Jose Pepe Soto, Victor Manuel Ayala, Luisa Navarro.
Justice For Job Seeker campaign endorsers:
Adhikaar, African Services Committee, Cabrini Immigrant Services, Catholic Migration Services, Chhaya CDC, Chinese Progressive Association, Cidadao Global, Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM), Don Bosco Workers, Inc., Domestic Workers United, Families for Freedom, Hispanic Resource Center, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Laundry Workers Center, Legal Aid New York, Local 1010, Long Island Jobs with Justice, MFY Legal Services, New Economy Project, New Immigrant Community Empowerment, New York Asian Women’s Center, New York Immigration Coalition, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, NYCOSH, Queens Community House, Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York RWDSU, SEIU-32BJ, Urban Justice Center, Workers Justice Center, Workplace Project, Workers Justice Center, Workplace Project