Workers' Rights Clinic

Shefali Milczarek-Desai

Director, Workers Rights Clinic, Clinical Professor of Practice

shefalimdesai@email.arizona.edu

Questions about your rights at work? Interested in scheduling a workplace rights presentation? Contact us to schedule an appointment at the Worker’s Rights Hotline number/¿Tiene preguntas sobre sus derechos en el trabajo? ¿Interesado en programar una presentación de derechos laborales? Contáctenos para programar una cita en el número de la Línea Directa de Derechos del Trabajador: 520-621-7331 or workersrights@email.arizona.edu

“The Workers' Rights Clinic provides students with experience in employment law and workers’ rights advocacy. We advocate for the rights of low-wage immigrant workers through direct service, public policy research, and community education and outreach.”

Click this link to watch the complete 20-minute documentary about the Workers' Rights Clinic made by the University of Arizona's visual Law and Storytelling class in Spring 2017.

We operate an in-house employment rights clinic where trained law students and supervising attorneys provide workers with confidential legal information, advice, and counseling about their rights in the workplace. Law students conduct initial intake interviews and then provide follow-up support and advocacy for workers.
 
In recent years, the clinic has recovered thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and helped workers file complaints with a range of government agencies and courts. Most of our clients are from Mexico, although we serve people from all over the world.

Success Stories

Since 2015, we have conducted intakes with more than 100 low-income immigrant workers. Each worker left with information about his or her workplace rights. In addition, the students often did extensive follow-up work and advocacy. Since August 2015, we have recovered more than $60,000 in unpaid wages. Some highlights of the multi-faceted advocacy of our students:

  • Amanda Rutherford (Class of 2018) helped a worker begin the process of organizing his coworkers at a food preparation facility to join a labor union in order to advocate for better working conditions, including breaks, air conditioning, and access to water during their shifts.
  • Alonzo Corral (Class of 2018) assisted a restaurant worker who was not paid for her last week of work to obtain her final week of wages.
  • Felipe Guevara (Class of 2017) and Jessica Schulberg (Class of 2016) worked with two former employees of a cleaning company to obtain wages for several days of unpaid labor.
  • A restaurant employee assisted by Jose Estrada (Class of 2016) and Jessica Schulberg (Class of 2016) obtained a $2,000 settlement for her unpaid overtime wages.
  • Numerous WRC students assisted the National Labor Relations Board with a successful case on behalf of two clients who had been fired in retaliation for requesting better working conditions at their road paving job. The board found that the employer had violated the National Labor Relations Act by firing the workers, and ordered them to receive back wages and reinstatement to their positions. The opinion is available here (PDF).
  • Araceli Rodriguez (Class of 2016) and Autum Kycia (Class of 2017) collaborated with Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a local community organization, to help a group of employees of a cleaning company obtain thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

Workers Rights Clinic client David C with student Ana Bonilla.jpg

A female law student presents a male worker with a check for his unpaid wages.
Law student Ana Bonilla (Class of 2015) presents a worker, David C., with a check for his unpaid wages. David worked as a carpenter, and at first, his employer refused to pay him and threatened to report him to immigration authorities. Ana successfully negotiated with the employer to pay David $8,000.

community-outreach_Workers Rights Clinic web.jpg

Two women stand in the front of a classroom giving a presentation
Arizona Law students Jillian Marini and Nikita Gupta (both Class of 2014) conducting a Know Your Rights Presentation at an ESL class at Pima Community College.

Know Your Rights Presentations

The Workers' Rights Clinic designs and conducts outreach and trainings on employment rights and self-advocacy for low-wage immigrant workers. These presentations are tailored to the specific audiences, language abilities, and concerns of the community organizations that host them. Presentations range from general workplace rights presentations to domestic workers' rights presentations or wage theft presentations. The clinic also provides trainings and technical assistance to community organizations and leaders on issues related to the exploitation of immigrant workers.

Resources

Our "know your rights" packets provide workers with information about their rights at work in Arizona. They are available below in Spanish and English, and please let us know if you would like a packet in another language. Contact us to schedule an outreach presentation.

Contact Us

Questions about your rights at work? Interested in scheduling a workplace rights presentation? Contact us to schedule an appointment at 520-621-7331 or workersrights@email.arizona.edu.

Our clinic strives to use its direct legal services work to inform policy debates in the state and the nation. Through our work, we have a rare opportunity to gain a rich and grounded understanding of the types and frequency of legal violations of immigrants’ rights. We aim to collect data, bring together stakeholders, and advocate for policy reform based on our understanding of the challenges facing the population we serve.
 
In September 2014, clinic students were involved in the research and follow-up advocacy surrounding the Bacon Immigration Law & Policy Program report, Out of the Shadows: A Report on the Working Conditions of Immigrant Women Workers in Tucson.
 
In December 2015, clinic students authored PAID SICK TIME IN TUCSON: Stories from Workers, Service Providers, and Employers (PDF). This document provides stories from throughout the Tucson community that capture the far-reaching consequences when workers are unable to receive paid sick days off to care for themselves or their family members.

"My time at the Workers' Rights Clinic has been the highlight of law school, and confirmed my feeling that law school should train us to bring the law to those in need. In my semester of work, I negotiated thousands of dollars worth of settlement. My clients were incredibly grateful, and struggled to believe that our representation was free. They'd never before been protected by the law, and didn't think they could be. My competence expanded, and for the first time I felt like a lawyer."       

-Aaron Baumann, Class of 2016

 
"I highly recommend the Workers’ Rights Clinic for a comprehensive experience in employment law. Through the clinic, I really began to comprehend how local agencies work, how legal theories apply in practice, and how truly serving a client is more complex than just knowing the law. The clinic was certainly a lot of work, but what you get out of it is by far more than any traditional class could offer!"

-Livia Thevenard, Class of 2015
 

“My experience working in the clinic was invaluable and hands down the most enjoyable thing that I've done in law school. It gave me a base knowledge about client interaction, interviewing, drafting demand letters, and negotiating. The client interaction was my favorite part; there is nothing like being an advocate for people who either don't understand their rights in the workplace or who are too scared to speak up against mistreatment. Using the law to give them a voice is an incredible thing that I will never forget.”

-Jamie Watkins, Class of 2013

 
“I feel extremely lucky that the Workers’ Rights Clinic was part of my law school experience. I learned how to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a case and incorporate them into negotiations with an employer—something I had never done before. It was also eye-opening to hear first-hand about the challenges many in the Tucson community face. Finally, the clinic taught me about employment law; I had never considered working in this area before, but now I really like it!”

-Emily Arnold, Class of 2014

 
The Workers’ Rights Clinic changed my whole law school experience. I learned how to interview clients, perform legal research, and interact with opposing parties. One of my favorite parts was the community outreach component. These presentations were so valuable, not only because most people do not know what their rights are, but also because it let a vulnerable group know that there are services available to them. The clinic has something to offer to all students, and it will be one of your most memorable law school experiences!”

-Jillian Marini, Class of 2014

 
“The Workers’ Rights Clinic is an excellent way to work with multiple clients and to engage in policy work directed towards labor and employment law reforms. Thanks to the clinic, I have a legal interest that was previously unidentified.”

-Stephen Steele, Class of 2015

clients maria and juan.png

A man and a woman stand in front of a building holding pay checks
After working with clinic students Felipe Guevara ('17) and Jessica Schulberg ('16), clients Maria and Juan receive their unpaid wages from the cleaning company they used to work for.

Call our worker line at 520-621-7331 or email workersrights@email.arizona.edu if you are a worker concerned about

  • Unpaid wages
  • Your treatment at work
  • Other problems on the job

We provide free and confidential legal counseling with trained law students and attorneys.

Know Your Rights!

If you would like to plan a presentation on workers' rights for your community organization, please contact us to schedule one at 520-621-7331 or workersrights@email.arizona.edu.

Resources

Our "know your rights" packets provide workers with information about their rights at work in Arizona. They are available below in Spanish and English, and please let us know if you would like a packet in another language. Contact us to schedule an outreach presentation.

Contact Us

520-621-7331
workersrights@email.arizona.edu


Llame a nuestra linea de trabajadores: 520-621-7331 o mandenos un email workersrights@email.arizona.edu si usted es un/a trabajador/a con preguntas sobre    

  • Pagos no remunerados
  • Su tratamiento en su trabajo
  • Otros problemas con el trabajo

Ofrecemos consultas legales gratis y confidenciales con estudiantes de derecho y abogados.

¡Conozca Sus Derechos!

Si quiere planificar una presentación sobre los derechos en el trabajo para su grupo comunitario, por favor comuníquese con nosotros al 520-621-7331 o workersrights@email.arizona.edu.

Resources

Nuestros paquetes de información de “conocer sus derechos” proveen información a trabajadores sobre sus derechos laborales en Arizona. Están disponibles abajo en inglés y en español. Comuníquese con nosotros por favor si quiere un paquete en otro idioma. ¡Contáctenos para hacer una plática sobre los derechos laborales! 

Comuníquese con nosotros 

Comuníquese con nosotros
520-621-7331
workersrights@email.arizona.edu