Raise the Floor Alliance builds off the award-winning work of the Just Pay for All Coalition. Since 2005, Just Pay combined the resources of community-oriented employment attorneys at the Working Hands Legal Clinic with on-the- ground organizing efforts of 3 worker centers. The synergy of worker organizing together with skilled legal policy research and technical assistance led to the passage of 7 laws in Illinois. This includes the strongest anti-wage theft law in the country, which protects Illinois’ 6,000,000-person workforce and covers workers at over 300,000 firms. Just Pay was awarded the first-ever Power of Communities Award by the Local Initiatives Support Committee (LISC) at the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards in 2014 for our impactful, strategic community organizing.
The Working Hands Legal Clinic has expanded and transitioned into the Raise the Floor Alliance, with the attorneys now incorporated into the Raise the Floor Legal Department. Founded in 2007 by three worker centers, the Legal Clinic has helped catalyze low-wage worker organizing by providing free and accessible legal services to low-wage workers facing employment abuse, providing legal support to worker center campaigns, and providing legal expertise on local and statewide public policy campaigns. In Chicago, the Legal Clinic is widely recognized as the expert in low-wage worker employment legal services, with particular expertise in wage theft. Since its founding, the Legal Clinic has recovered over $10 million in stolen wages.
Much of RTF’s work involves working to improve working conditions for temporary laborers in Illinois as well as protecting the right of these laborers through RTL’s legal department. For example, RTL spearheaded community advocacy for HB 690, the Responsible Job Creation Act, which was passed into law in September of 2017 and will become effective this year. RTF’s attorneys assisted in the drafting of this new law, which amends the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act, by making charges to temporary laborer for drug tests and background checks unlawful.
Jaworski, et al. v. Master Hand Contractors, Inc., et al.
Summary: After a two-day federal bench trial, RTF Legal, along with co-counsel, successfully obtained a judgment for unpaid overtime and earned wages in favor of 3 construction workers who were misclassified as independent contractors under the FLSA, IMWL, IWPCA, and ECA. This case also resulted in a federal court decision stating the Illinois Employee Classification Act incorporates the remedies of the IMWL and the IWPCA - so if a worker is misclassified under the ECA, he is entitled to recover unpaid minimum wages, overtime or earned wages without having to prove he is an employee under those laws.
Read the entire decision here.
Silva, et al. v. Garland Converting Corporation
Issue: Wage-Theft (IDOL)
Summary: A class action wage claim filed at IDOL, RTF Legal, along with co-counsel, successfully obtained a judgment against one individual employer for unpaid earned wages. While the company filed for bankruptcy early in the wage claim process, RTF Legal was able to represent the workers in the bankruptcy case and those with priority status were able to collect their wages.
Mendoza v. Visual Pak
Issue: Retaliation for Protected Concerted Activity
Summary: Chicago Workers Collaborative assisted temporary laborers in organizing several protests against their employer. The workers protested workplace discrimination, lack of breaks, and violations of privacy. One of the protest leaders was interrogated about the protest and threatened with discipline for engaging in protected concerted activities. Shortly thereafter, this worker was fired in retaliation for protesting the company. RTF Legal filed an unfair labor practice charge on the worker’s behalf, prompting the NLRB Regional Office to investigate and ultimately issue a complaint. After the NLRB issued its complaint, RTF Legal successfully negotiated with the staffing agency and company for a settlement deal for the worker that was supported by the NLRB.
Mendoza v. Premium Parking
Summary: RTF Legal filed a case with the Chicago Commission of Human Relations (CCHR) on behalf of a worker who experienced discrimination from his employer. He worked as a parking attendant and was subjected to discriminatory comments and harassment for being Venezuelan. His supervisor also repeatedly threatened to call the police and immigration services to deport him. CCHR ruled in favor of the worker and ordered Premium Parking to pay him as compensation for their illegal treatment of him. When they refused to pay, RTF Legal continued fighting for the worker by moving to enforce CCHR’s judgement.