Shielding Immigrants from Abuse
Maria met Jim on 19th street in Chicago, where she had been looking for work to help support her family. Since immigrating from Mexico, Maria’s parents both worked 60-70 hour-weeks for minimum wage and no overtime.
Jim offered her $240 per week to work 13 hour-days cleaning a restaurant, along with a room and meals. But the promise of work quickly turned into a nightmare situation.
The house Maria stayed in was filled with bugs and rats. Employees had to use their wages to pay rent and utilities and were allowed to eat only once a day. Jim constantly threatened them, saying no one would help them since he had high-priced lawyers working for him.
After two months of working with no days off, Maria had never been paid. That’s when she turned to the Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project (FLAP), after hearing their “Know your Rights” presentation at the Mexican Consulate in Chicago.
FLAP was able to help Maria escape an abusive workplace and sue the restaurant owner for stealing her wages. Legal aid served as her shield from further abuse and exploitation.
The mission of the Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project (FLAP)- Ayuda para Trabajadores- is to improve working conditions for migrant and seasonal workers in Illinois, including low-income farmworkers, landscapers, snow plowing workers, packinghouse workers, cannery workers, restaurant workers and meat and poultry workers end their households. The IEJF has proudly funded FLAP’s legal information work with the Mexican Consulate since 2017. FLAP educates approximately 300 people a day six days a week at the Consulate’s office.
Per the IL Equal Justice Act, IEJF funds cannot be used to file an individual action or class action under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act or other labor laws.