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KEY CASES


WORKERS’ RIGHTS

We are proud to continue our long history of fighting on behalf of low wage immigrant wokers through our Workers’ Rights program. At the centerpiece is our clinic, which provides free legal counseling and referrals to low income workers. We focus on our clients’ most pressing employment issues, including discrimination, wage and hour disputes, and unemployment insurance benefit appeals.

KEY CASES et al. v. Natalie 2013 Tran, Salon, Inc., et al. In September 2011, Advancing Justice - ALC and co-counsel attorneys filed the first class action lawsuit brought on behalf of current and former nail salon workers, charging Natalie Salon, a San Mateo County nail salon chain, with various state wage and overtime violations. The action represented an important step in reforming unlawful practices in an under-regulated and often overlooked industry. In June 2013, the court granted final approval of a $750,000 class settlement for plaintiffs and the class, including injunctive relief which protects employees’ right to speak Vietnamese at work and post information about workers’ rights under federal and state employment laws.

2012 $1 Million Milestone Achieved for Low-Wage Immigrant Workers

In September 2012, Advancing Justice - ALC reached the $1 million benchmark in unlawfully withheld wages and other amounts won by the Caucus for low-wage immigrant workers through our direct service cases. This achievement was reached after reopening the Employment and Labor Rights program in April 2011, making this benchmark a victory for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

2002 Airport Screeners Case

The hysteria surrounding national security following 9/11 resulted in a U.S. citizenship requirement for airport security workers. Lawful permanent residents of all nationalities who were employed as airport screeners, many of Filipino descent, would have been summarily fired from their jobs and barred from reapplying as screeners, presumptively treated as security risks by virtue of their lawful non-citizenship status. Advancing Justice - ALC filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Transportation charging employment discrimination against Bay Area Filipino screeners who had lost their jobs. The settlement terms are confidential because EEOC’s conciliation process arbitrated the claims.


2001 Wins Garment Workers

In July 2001, nearly 240 garment workers employed at Wins of California were abruptly terminated after working for months without pay. Advancing Justice - ALC joined with community groups to press federal and state officials to collect back wages and prosecute the Wins owners for their labor law violations. In 2002, almost all the 240 former Wins garment workers, mostly Chinese immigrant women, received close to $1 million in back wages from the state’s Garment Fund.

1999 Sweatshop Accountability Legislation (AB 633)

After more than ten years of work, Advancing Justice - ALC and a coalition of labor and community groups witnessed the signing of AB 633 in 1999, creating the nation’s strongest anti-sweatshop law. The landmark legislation holds the garment industry accountable for compliance with labor laws, including allowing garment workers to collect their wages in full and in a timely manner.

1998 Lo v. Raymond Garment Cutting Services

In a major victory for one immigrant garment worker that ultimately benefited hundreds more, Advancing Justice - ALC and co-counsel won a settlement in a suit for unpaid wages and wrongful termination. The plaintiff’s action prompted the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate Raymond Garment factories, resulting in the recovery of $192,000 in back wages for more than 100 workers.

1996 Buereerong v. Uvawas (El Monte Case)

Advancing Justice - ALC served as co-counsel in this successfully settled case for Thai and Latina garment workers who had been employed in a home slave shop in El Monte, California. The workers sough to recover wages from the garment manufacturing companies. Advancing Justice - ALC partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor to obtain back wages and punitive damages for the 72 workers who had been held in slavery for up to 17 years, laboring 14-18 hour days. Korean Immigrant Workers Association and Sweatshop Watch waged a two-year campaign to keep the case alive in the media, which for the first time reported on garment worker issues.

1984 Rhi, Py, & Seo v. Express Maintenance

In 1983,, Orean immigrant janitors working at the San Francisco International Airport organized against substandard wages and lack of benefits. It was the first organizaing effort among Korean American initiated by the workers themselves. After four janitors were fired for joining the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 87, Advancing Justice - ALC and the SEIU filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. The board upheld the workers’ claims, affirming the right of workers to organize and form a union.


HOUSING RIGHTS

We serve as advocates on behalf of low income residents, workers, seniors, and immigrant families in the areas of housing and community development. We pay particular attention to gateway communities for new immigrants where large numbers of tenants and senior are in danger of displacement due to gentrification and other economic pressures.

KEY CASES Building at 53 2006 Fong Columbus Attorneys at Advancing Justice - ALC began representing the low income and elderly residents of 53 Columbus in San Francisco Chinatown in 1998 to fight displacement from the neighborhood. In 2006, Advancing Justice - ALC negotiated an agreement with the landlord, City College of San Francisco, to convert the building into Chinatown’s first limited equity housing cooperative. By 2007, Advancing Justice - ALC had successfully closed over $7 million in financing for the retrofit and upgrading of the aging building and to fund the creation of the cooperative. The plan included Advancing Justice - ALC’s permanent residence.

1993 Nguyen, et al. v. San Francisco Housing Authority

Advancing Justice - ALC sued the San Francisco Housing Authority in federal court for its failure to address a pattern of racial violence against Asian American families living in seven public housing projects plagued with racial tension. The action resulted in findings of widespread interracial hostility in San Francisco’s public housing and a history of racially motivated violence.

1988 Buena Vista Housing

Along with Legal Aid Society of Alameda County, Advancing Justice - ALC assisted in organizing public housing tenants faced with exorbitant rent increase. The case highlighted the emerging problem with subsidized housing built in the 1960s, in which owners were paying off their federal financing and reverting to private ownership with market rate rents. The team of attorneys explored both legal and political solutions to the private buy-out problem that threatened the stock of affordable units and caused the displacement of low income tenants.

1985 San Fran Hotel

Advancing Justice - ALC and San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation became involved in assisting tenants facing eviction and substandard housing conditions in the San Fran Hotel. The owners had proposed demolition of this and a neighboring residential hotel to build a tourist hotel but were ultimately prevented by the San Francisco Chinatown-North Beach Residential Hotel Moratorium. The case championed the ability of low income tenants to organize for their right to affordable housing.


1981 Yu, et al. v. Bank of Canton

In the first case to prevent the loss of San Francisco Chinatown’s affordable housing due to commercial development, Advancing Justice - ALC filed a complaint against the Bank of Canton for violation of a city ordinance prohibiting the demolition of housing to make way for commercial use. In the settlement, the bank agreed to build affordable housing to be managed by a nonprofit corporation. The settlement’s value was over $1 million.

1978 Ping Yuen Tenants Association v. San Francisco Housing Authority

Advancing Justice - ALC attorneys joined other community and legal organizations to represent more than 200 public housing tenants in Chinatown’s Ping Yuen housing project who were demanding improved building security and basic repairs. The struggle emanated from the rape and murder of a young Chinese girl in the building. The ensuing eight-month rent strike by tenants raised the issue of unsafe and unsanitary conditions in San Francisco Housing Authority properties. The case was settled in the tenants’ favor and improvement to security and property repairs were made.

1975 International Hotel

In this historic battle, the residents of the International Hotel in San Francisco had been battling developers for years. Advancing Justice - ALC joined the legal defense in 1975. In 1977, the developer evicted the 60 elderly Chinese and Filipino residents and demolished the building the following year. The block on the border between Chinatown and the Financial District remained a blighted hole for years until the hotel was reconstructed in 2005. The International Hotel now provides 104 permanently affordable residential units and is the location for the Manilatown Center.


CONFRONTING D I S C R I M I N AT I O N

We continue to address problems in San Francisco’s juvenile justice system through our Criminal Justice Reform program and strive to safeguard the civil and human rights of individuals and commnities unjustly impacted by overbroad national security policies and programs. Our Voting Rights program focuses on strengthening elective systems for the benefit of all Americans.

KEY CASES San Francisco Civil 2012 Safe Rights Ordinance Mayor Edwin Lee signed the Safe San Francisco Civil Rights Ordinance in a major step to protect the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities from racial and religious profiling. The ordinance addresses the San Francisco Police Departments’ relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force to ensure that state and local standards are protected. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the ordinance in May 2012.

2011 Challenging the Secure Communities Program

With a coalition of civil rights activists, Advancing Justice - ALC fought the increased criminalization of immigrants, particularly by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement collaborations such as the controversial Secure Communities Program (known as S-Comm). In particular, S-Comm deportation activities cast a dangerously wide dragnet that ensnares innocent domestic violence survivors and other victims of crime, instilling feat in immigrants to come forward to report crimes to police.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION Audee Kochiyama-Holman Director of Alumni Relations audeekh@advancingjustice-alc.org (415)848-7731



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