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 Michigan Migrant Legal Aid Feb 2016

Migrant Legal Aid's growing lawsuit against Arellano Fresh Fruit Market. 
Migrant Legal Aid's lawsuit against Armando Arellano and Arellano Fresh Fruit Market and Restaurant seeks to grow. More former employees seek to join the lawsuit, despite ongoing harassment, stalking, and threats from the defendant, necessitating protective orders. This case was first filed in July of 2015 with five workers, but publicity led to six more  employees coming forward. 

MLA files suit against Gavin Orchards
Migrant Legal Aid filed suit against Gavin Orchards in Coopersville. This lawsuit alleges that several workers were underpaid, and housed in deplorable conditions. These conditions have included lack of heat (despite being late fall in Michigan), and, at times, lack of running water. 

MLA looks for clarity with Argicultural Employment Specialists Jobs. 
Migrant Legal Aid has --via the Policy and Advocacy subcommittee of IMSC-- been fighting for transparency and accountability around the WDA's decision to move Agricultural Employment Specialists form Michigan's Workforce Development Agency to the privately run Michigan Works! Program. Agricultural Employment Specialists have the role of connecting migrant and seasonal farmworkers with local jobs. The Workforce Development Agency only asked for comment after the change was already made, and Freedom of Information Act Requests to the agency and the Department of Labor have not been answered. Migrant Legal Aid is reviewing all possible options to increase transparency and accountability in this situation and will share the FOIA responses for further advocacy.

MLA working to protect the rights of non-English speaking victims of crime. 
Given the limitations of the language access court rule MCR 1.111 for 'out of court' communication with non English speakers, and given the increase in workplace violence experienced by non-english speaking migrant workers, Migrant Legal Aid is working with prosecutors and others to examine the issue and discuss solutions with statewide impact.  Starting with a pilot review of systems in Kent County, MLA's Director and staff  met with Mr. Chris Becker, Assistant Prosecutor,  with representatives from local law enforcement, and with Victim Services leadership to discuss the problem and design possible solutions. The  remedies that work best will be used to expand access for LEP victims on a statewide level.  MLA is also exploring a legislative fix if other advocacy becomes stalled.
On December 17, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a plan to increase the frequency and effectiveness of criminal prosecutions of safety and environmental violations affecting workers.
Oakland, Calif. - ACROSS the country, some 400,000 women, mostly immigrants, work in agriculture, toiling in fields, nurseries and packing plants. Such work is backbreaking and low-paying. But for many of these women, it is also a
 nightmare of sexual violence.
On January 20, 2016, the Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division released an Administrator's Interpretation addressing what it considers to be a growing concern: joint employment. As a result, you may be liable for wage violations for employees that you didn't know you had or think were yours.
Obamacare is putting the agricultural industry in a tizzy.  Many contractors who provide farm labor and must now offer workers health insurance are complaining loudly about the cost in their already low-margin business.

MLA is dedicated to defending and preserving farmworker jobs, dignity, health, income, and legal rights.  
Teresa Hendricks
Migrant Legal Aid
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