Chen v. TYT East Corp., (S.D.N.Y.) AALDEF represented 22 waiters and bussers in a claim for minimum wages, overtime pay, and unpaid wages against a restaurant in Chinatown. In addition, the restaurant had closed owing several weeks of pay. The corporation that was the owner of the restaurant was a wholly owned subsidiary of TYT East Corporation. TYT was the lessee of the building that housed the restaurant and had set up the restaurant and hired its general manager. TYT and the restaurant corporation had the same boards of directors. In March 2012, the Court found that TYT and the restaurant corporation were in fact a single entity and therefore TYT was responsible for the labor violations of its subsidiary. After that determination, the parties agreed on the damages owed the plaintiffs and plaintiffs were also awarded attorneys' fees in May 2013. The decision was a precedent as the use of false subsidiaries is another ploy in employer's efforts to evade responsibility for violations of labor laws. (Co-counsel Davis Polk & Wardwell)
Ho v. Sim Enterprises, (S.D.N.Y.) The thirteen plaintiffs in this case were garment workers in a factory in Chinatown. As in most garment factories, the plaintiffs were piece workers and a few were paid by the day. But despite regular 6 and 7 day weeks with long hours each day, no one was paid overtime. The factory changed corporate owners almost every year, but were continually managed by the same boss and supervisor. After inducing the workers to continue working with promises to pay, the boss then just closed and locked the doors. The factory closed in October 2010 still owing the workers several months of unpaid wages, estimated to be almost $120,000. The case is scheduled for trial on February 2014.
Kim v. Kum Gang, Inc., (S.D.N.Y.) The plaintiffs are waiters, bussers, and a kitchen worker in one of the most popular and successful Korean restaurants in New York, Kum Gang San. Kum Gang San runs a restaurant in Flushing, Queens, that includes banquet facilities as well as provides offsite catering. Kum Gang San also owns a Manhattan establishment on 32nd Street, in the heart of Koreatown. Both restaurants operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Despite the required 12-hour shifts, the workers were not paid overtime. In addition, the restaurant took about 8 or 9% of the tips set aside for the wait staff on credit cards and an additional 10% of the tips set aside for the wait staff in the banquet halls and catering events. The restaurant had previously been found by the New York Department of Labor to have not properly paid its staff in the Manhattan location, and paid $137,000 in back wages and for having improperly employed a minor. Despite these past violations, the restaurant continued its unlawful pay practices until recently. In late 2012, the employees obtained a temporary restraining order barring the restaurant owner from retaliating against them for asserting their labor rights. A trial is expected in early 2014. (Co-counsel Shearman & Sterling and Latino Justice)
Chen v. Hector, (S.D.N.Y.) AALDEF is representing seven home care workers who were employed by an agency called Gold and Silver Aging Home Care, Inc. These workers were not paid for several weeks or months in the spring of 2011 or, if they were paid, their checks bounced. Several of them were not paid overtime. In November 2013, the plaintiffs moved for summary judgment against the owner Leonora Hector and the agency, or for default judgment.
Post-9/11 Civil Liberties
Al Falah Center v. Township of Bridgewater, (D.N.J.) At the end of 2010, American Muslims in central New Jersey bought a closed banquet facility in Bridgewater, New Jersey and developed plans to convert it into a mosque and community center. The mosque site was in a residential area which permitted houses of worship. However, in January 2011, before the first scheduled hearing on the mosque's construction permit, the Mayor and town officials planned to change the zoning rules. The first hearing over the mosque's construction permit had to be cancelled as an unprecedented number of people showed up in response to a Tea Party emailing suggesting the mosque may be tied to terrorism. Before the hearing could be rescheduled, the township began the process of changing the zoning for the mosque site. By April 2011, a new zoning ordinance barred the use of the site for a mosque. After fruitless settlement negotiations and discovery, Al Falah moved for preliminary injunction against the discriminatory zoning ordinance in November 2012. In September 2013, the Court held for the plaintiffs and enjoined the township from enforcing its new ordinance against Al Falah. The township has appealed and sought a stay of the injunction. (Co-counsel Arnold & Porter, the Brennan Center)
Badrawi vs. Dept. of Homeland Security, (D.Conn.) AALDEF represents a Middle Eastern immigrant who was unlawfully arrested, placed into removal proceedings, jailed, held for two months, and ultimately removed from the United States despite still being in legal status. On April 12, 2011, the federal district court ruled that the government may not arrest H-1B employees whose extension applications were filed on time and still pending in a 56-page opinion. The Court found that a federal regulation allows H-1B immigrants to continue working for 240 days pending the adjudication of their extension applications. (Co-counsel Yale Law School Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic)
Complaints filed on behalf of Milena Clarke with Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education (Philadelphia) and Department of Justice.
Milena Clarke is a former middle school student in Russell Middle School of the Russell Independent School District (RISD) in Russell, Kentucky. While participating in RISD's basketball program, Milena was racially harassed by teammates who used ethnic slurs against her and Milena's African American friends from other schools. The harassment extended to school hallways and even became physical. Milena's coaches were made aware of the harassment but did not intervene, even as it persisted for nearly 2 years. School officials took steps to penalize Milena and her family for speaking up. AALDEF filed complaints with U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the complaint. The Department of Education found the initial complaint sufficient to initiate an investigation that is ongoing.
Complaints filed with Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education (Dallas) and Department of Justice on behalf of English language learner students and limited English proficient parents in New Orleans.
In conjunction with the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA), AALDEF filed complaints with U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice, alleging that Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and the Recovery School District (RSD) violated Title VI in failing to meet the language needs of Asian American and Latino limited-English proficient students. District-wide, these students and their families have been underserved, severely damaging their quality of education and putting them at a huge disadvantage to attaining success in their schools. The U.S. Department of Education has opened the complaint for investigation.
Oh v. Choi, (E.D.N.Y.) AALDEF represents a domestic worker whose employers forced her to work long hours without pay and without freedom to leave the residence. She endured ridicule, insults, fear for her safety and that of her family, and pervasive mistreatment from the defendants. Her claims include involuntary servitude, forced labor, trafficking, document servitude, RICO, violations of federal and state employment laws, and fraud. After failing to reach a settlement at a conference with the court in November 2013, the parties are preparing to restart discovery. (Co-counsel Davis Polk & Wardwell)
David v. Signal, (E.D. La). AALDEF represents 12 Indian H-2B workers in an action against their former employer, Signal International, and its labor recruiters and attorneys for human trafficking, involuntary servitude, discrimination, and civil RICO violations. Signal claims that a labor shortage after Hurricane Katrina forced it to recruit workers from India to work as welders and fitters at its shipbuilding facilities in the Gulf region. The suit alleges that as part of the recruitment process, the workers were promised green cards if they took the job at Signal. The workers each paid approximately $10,000 to $20,000 for the opportunity, only to realize upon their arrival to the United States that the promises of green cards were false. AALDEF also represents the Plaintiff-Intervenor workers in EEOC v. Signal, (E.D. La). Additional suits on behalf of workers were filed against Signal in May and August of 2013. A case management conference was held in November 2013 for both cases. (Co-counsel Crowell & Moring LLP, Southern Poverty Law Center, and ACLU with Louisiana Justice Institute, local counsel)
Alliance of South Asian American Labor v. The Board of Elections in the City of New York, (E.D.N.Y.) In 2013, AALDEF filed a lawsuit under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act against the NYC Board of Elections for failure to provide adequate Bengali language assistance. The Board has since provided Bengali ballots in Queens. (Co-counsel Weil, Gotshal & Manges)
Favors v. Cuomo, (E.D.N.Y.) AALDEF filed a Complaint-In-Intervention on behalf of four Asian American voters urging the Brooklyn federal court to adopt a redistricting plan that provides Asian Americans in New York with equal political representation. AALDEF's complaint requested that an independent party or "Special Master" be appointed to redraw districts immediately. The judge ruled in favor. AALDEF submitted the Unity Map, its redistricting plan to protect the voting rights of Asian Americans and other communities of color, to the Special Master, including detailed neighborhood maps, ethnic data, and communities of interest surveys. The Court adopted a configuration identical to the Unity Map for New York City's congressional districts, which included a district in Queens which was 40% Asian American. The same district ultimately elected Grace Meng, the first ever Asian American to Congress from New York State. (Co-counsel Kaye Scholer)
Garden State Equality v. Dow, (N.J.) AALDEF and other civil rights groups joined in an amicus brief challenging the discriminatory treatment of same-sex marriages in New Jersey. In 2013, the New Jersey Superior Court's decision found that the limited civil unions of same-sex couples were discriminatory and enjoined New Jersey to allow gay and lesbian marriages.
Mitchell v. Felker, (E.D.Ca.) AALDEF joined other civil rights and prisoner rights groups in an amicus brief in the Eastern District of California. California prisons placed all members of racial or ethnic groups in lockdowns that can last months or years. The placement is not based on an individual's activities or gang allegiances, but solely on race or ethnicity. The amicus brief supports plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction barring such practices.
Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder. AALDEF filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 28 Asian American groups urging the Court to uphold Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allows the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia to ensure that any proposed new voting rules do not discriminate against or disenfranchise minority voters. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula for Section 5 preclearance, Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, in a 5-4 decision. (Co-counsel Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe)
Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. AALDEF filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging the legality of Arizona's Proposition 200, the state's restrictive voter registration law. AALDEF argued that Proposition 200 unfairly burdened naturalized citizens, who make up almost 40% of the state's Asian American population. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Arizona's Proposition 200, the state's restrictive voter registration law, in a 7-2 decision. (Co-counsel Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy)
Applewhite v. Pennsylvania. AALDEF and the Asian Pacific American Bar Association (APABA) of Pennsylvania filed an amicus brief in the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's restrictive voter ID requirement in 2012. AALDEF's amicus brief demonstrated that Pennsylvania's new photo ID requirements would have discriminatory impacts on Asian American voters. The brief detailed findings from election monitoring data compiled by AALDEF and other Asian American groups over the last decade. A preliminary injunction was issued on October 2, 2012, blocking the voter ID law from going into effect for the November 2012 election for voters casting ballots in person. In 2013, AALDEF and APABA-PA filed a second amicus brief in the trial for permanent injunction, which began July 15, 2013. (Co counsel White & Case)
Perry v. Perez. AALDEF filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a Texas federal district court's interim redistricting plan after the Department of Justice contended that the Texas state legislature's plan diluted the voting power of Asian Americans and other people of color. Following a trial in January 2012, the three-judge district court in Washington, DC denied Section 5 preclearance on August 28, 2012 in a lengthy and mostly unanimous opinion. In its ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to allow Texas to put its congressional, state senate and state house redistricting plans into effect because they have not been precleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. (Co-counsel Kaye Scholer)
Fisher v. UT-Austin. In 2013, AALDEF filed an amicus brief in support of UT-Austin's affirmative action policy in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas, on behalf of student association Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective (APAC) and the Asian/Asian American Faculty and Staff Association (AAAFSA) at the University of Texas at Austin. The case is on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court after its June 2013 decision affirming that educational institutions have a compelling interest in considering diversity in admissions. AALDEF had previously filed a 2012 amicus brief when Fisher was before the Supreme Court in support of UT-Austin's admissions policy, with 18 AAPI education and youth-serving organizations and 52 higher education faculty and officials joining as amicus curiae.