Workers’ Rights

Even in an ever-changing economy, one thing should never change: the right to be treated fairly in the workplace. Yet some companies and government institutions knowingly put their workers at risk by failing to ensure their safety, and others use deceitful means to take advantage of their employees, putting their rights in jeopardy. As globalization and the freelance economy re-imagine the definition of a workplace, it is more critical than ever that workers are legally protected from mistreatment. At Public Justice, we empower workers and unions to stand up to employers and help put an end to unfair labor practices.

Public Justice is using novel litigation strategies to protect workers and safeguard their rights. Working alongside unions and workers, our impact litigation team is winning key victories and waging critical battles on behalf of some of the country’s most vulnerable workers.

What Public Justice Is Doing

Fighting for safe workplaces

At too many job sites across the country, workers are subjected to intolerable conditions that put their well-being and safety in jeopardy. Some employers and industries have a well-documented history of ignoring workplace safety regulations and continue to take advantage of employees, especially low-wage, immigrant and other vulnerable workers. On one nuclear site, dubbed “the most toxic place in America,” dozens of previously healthy workers have come down with debilitating diseases from inhaling noxious vapors. Despite this, their employer insists the workplace is safe.

Public Justice is at the forefront of innovative litigation that uses existing laws to protect the health and safety of workers. We’re taking on employers, such as the large corporations that run factory farms, some of the country’s dirtiest and most dangerous workplaces. Furthermore, our legal team works with community organizations and workers’ groups to get the courts involved in cases of workplace safety. We believe it is unacceptable for employers to cut corners at the expense of employee health, and we’re committed to holding them accountable.

Challenging companies that rip off their workers

Many employers have a number of dirty tricks to pay low-wage workers even less than they’re entitled to. Whether through bogus “sub-contracting” agreements or forcing workers to pay for “apprenticeships” before being able to secure a job, some businesses will do anything to avoid paying their employees the wages they deserve. We believe no worker deserves to be ripped off—that’s why we’ve developed innovative ways to fight these unfair practices in court.

Public Justice has taken on some of the country’s most powerful industry leaders to ensure workers are paid what they deserve. When some of the nation’s largest trucking companies forced their drivers to pay the businesses’ operating costs, we developed litigation that allowed thousands of drivers to bring their claims in court. When national cable provider DirecTV used loopholes to avoid paying their workers overtime, we successfully unsealed court documents showing how they did it, giving workers and unions new insights that help others challenge similar practices. Our legal team continues to create and employ bold strategies to beat big corporations in court.

Shedding light on deceitful business practices

The relationship between employer and employee should be built on honesty, clarity and fairness. But some companies and government institutions cheat, harm and discriminate against their workers. And some employment policies and contracts leave employees vulnerable to mistreatment, and try to eliminate their rights.

Public Justice’s litigation has exposed and stopped discrimination, changed unfair workplace practices, and won fair compensation for injured, low-wage, women, and minority workers on both an individual and class-wide basis. We have lawyers working full-time to challenge employers’ attempts to eliminate or unduly limit workers’ access to the courts through mandatory arbitration clauses, and we’re fighting to protect the future of class-action lawsuits from legislators who would rather see them gone. We’re dedicated to defending workers’ right to just treatment, and to shedding light on corporate efforts to impede that right.

Recent Wins

Morgan v. Sundance 

In May 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court released its opinion in our case, Morgan v. Sundance, ruling unanimously in favor of our client Robyn Morgan, holding that no prejudice is required for the waiver of arbitration agreements and that courts cannot “make up” new rules that favor employment arbitration.

“We are hopeful that [the] decision will bring Ms. Morgan a step closer to a fair result in her dispute with Sundance, and we’re also hopeful that it will send a message to all corporations who include arbitration provisions in their contracts with workers and consumers those arbitration provisions will be treated just like any other term in their contract — no worse, but also no better,” said our very own Access to Justice Co-Director Karla Gilbride, who argued the case before the Supreme Court in late March.

The Court’s ruling not only affirms Robyn and her co-workers’ right to a day in court, but also access to our justice system for other workers and consumers harmed by corporate abuse and predatory practices. Learn more about the case here.

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