The Wage Theft Advocacy Project is an administrative law pro-bono project started by four University of Miami Law Students in partnership with a local attorney. We noticed that throughout Miami-Dade County, many low wage workers had some aspect of their owed wages withheld or stolen by their employer. Thankfully, Miami-Dade County has an ordinance that allows these workers to get what they are owed through the justice system. However, these workers are typically unable to equitably compete with their employer's legal team, which is where we come in.
The ordinance allows for non-legal representation, which means law students are able to represent clients in these administrative hearings. Though not required, all participants will be supervised by a licensed lawyer who focuses in labor law. The four founders and our supervising attorney plan to train 16 law students to take on wage theft cases throughout Miami-Dade County. We noticed a significant gap in legal representation and support when it came to our Miami neighbors in high risk jobs such as construction workers, the restaurant and hospitality industry, and domestic workers.
Our goal is to train the trainers. Once our first group of volunteers are trained, each student is required to pass the knowledge onward and train the next group of volunteers in the Wage Theft Advocacy Project. We have run one test case with our supervising attorney and were successful in recovering thousands of wages stolen from our client. With this grant we will be able to recover thousands more for the people who keep Miami running.
We would only need funding for this first class of volunteers because rather than just training students how to handle a wage theft case, we will also be focusing on training students on how to become trainers on the subject. Currently, we need to hire a trainer, but in future years we hope to rely on our volunteers. Your $1,000 could train students for years and years to come.
Funded by Miami, FL (February 2020)