Combating Fraud that Obfuscates Workplace Rights: Mark v. O.P.E.N. America, Inc. d/b/a OPENWORKS

Towards Justice represents Ruth Mark and a proposed class of cleaning workers employed by OpenWorks. OpenWorks is a cleaning company, but it claims not to employ cleaners. Instead, it requires its workers—many of whom are recent immigrants to the United States—to incorporate into separate LLCs and enter into franchise agreements under which they purportedly operate as independent companies. OpenWorks’s misclassification of its employees not only allows OpenWorks to skirt state and federal labor and employment laws. It also allows it to charge its workers predatory franchise fees and other costs, many of which it finances for its workers, thus indenturing them to OpenWorks with extraordinary debt that often exceeds what OpenWorks’s workers are able to earn through their work. OpenWorks recruits its workers with the false promise that they will own a successful and independent business. Towards Justice’s clients assert fraud and misclassification claims against OpenWorks.

Case Documents

Complaint

Press

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Fighting Injustice in Guest-Worker Programs: Douglas et. al v. Yellowstone Club Operations, LLC; and Hospitality Staffing Solutions LLC:

Several of Towards Justice’s cases focus on systemic injustices in nonimmigrant guestworker programs where visas indenture workers to specific employers that far too frequently exploit their employees and defraud them with false promises of the American Dream. In September 2018, Towards Justice filed a case on behalf of several black Jamaican citizens who spent the winter of 2017-2018 working in Montana as temporary non-immigrant H-2B visa workers for an ultra-exclusive golf and ski resort. According to their allegations, they were promised that the resort would employ them and that they would receive ample pay, including tips and service charges that could amount to $400-$600 or more in a night at the nicest restaurants. They allege that instead they found themselves jointly employed by a temp-staffing firm, which, along with the resort, robbed them of their promised tips and service charges. Towards Justice represents the plaintiffs with co-counsel Lowrey Parady, LLP.

Case Documents

Complaint 

Press

9/22/18 Bloomberg “Billionaires’ Yellowstone Club Sued for Stiffing Jamaican Staff”

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Empowering Workers to Recover Earned Wages: Miles v. Ella Bliss Beauty Bar

Representing manicurist Lisa Miles, Towards Justice and co-counsel filed a class action lawsuit in Federal Court alleging that Ella Bliss Beauty Bar systematically stole employees’ wages in blatant violation of state and federal law. Workers allege that Ella Bliss implemented systematic, written policies that were clearly illegal and denied workers the hard-earned wages needed to support their families. Ella Bliss Beauty Bar forced its service technicians to perform janitorial work without pay, refused to pay overtime, withheld tips, and shorted commissions. Ms. Miles not only seeks her own back wages, but also the wages stolen from all Ella Bliss Beauty Bar Service Technicians. Towards Justice represents the plaintiff with co-counsel Killmer Lane & Newman LLP.

Case Documents

Complaint

Press Releases

5/17/2018 Workers Sue Posh Ella Beauty Bar for Wage Theft

Press

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Empowering Temporary Workers to Recover Stolen Wages: Valverde v. Xclusive Staffing, Inc. et al

Towards Justice represents a proposed class of temporary workers employed by one of Colorado’s largest staffing companies, XClusive Staffing. The workers allege that XClusive Staffing and its President Diane Astley have been stealing hard earned wages through illegal deductions and other wage and hour violations for years. Workers allege that XClusive continues to force its employees to pay to get paid – charging employees $3.00 on each payday to cover the cost of issuing their paychecks – and auto-deducting work time for breaks that employees are never allowed to take.

Case Documents

Press Release

Press

4/5/2016 Employee Files Complaint Against Xclusive Staffing

4/1/2016 Hotel staffing agency sued over alleged wage laws violations

3/24/2016 Class Says Hotel Staffing Firm Cheated Them

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Combatting Wage Suppression in the Sheep Ranching Industry: Llacua et al. v. Western Range Association et al

Towards Justice attacks impediments to competitive labor markets that should allow workers, including the most marginalized and underpaid, to shop between employers for a better deal. We represent shepherds in a class action lawsuit alleging that ranchers across the Western United States colluded to depress shepherd wages, illegally deducted expenses from their meager paychecks, and misled state and federal governments in a pattern of racketeering activity. Our clients allege that ranches hired their shepherds through an association constituted by competing ranches. In doing so, they sharply limited competition for shepherds and effectively fixed wages at the minimum allowable by law.

Case Documents

Tenth Circuit Brief

Press Releases

9/1/2015 Shepherds Allege that an Antitrust Conspiracy Has Kept Them Below the Poverty Line

Press

9/2/2015 Lawsuit: Western sheep operators colluded against workers

9/2/2015 Peruvian shepherds claim wage fixing in U.S. sheep industry: lawsuit

9/1/2015 Workers Say Sheep Ranchers, Ranching Groups Fixing Wages

Spanish Language Press

11/16/2015 Cautiverio En Las Rocallosas, Parte 1

11/9/2015 Pastores de ovejas en la miseria tras venir como trabajodres huéspedes

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Clarifying Workplace Relationships in the Gig Economy: Shockley v. GoBrands, Inc.

Towards Justice represents Austin Shockley and a proposed class of delivery drivers working across the country for the online convenience store goPuff. Employee misclassification allegedly caused goPuff to illegally fail to pay drivers overtime and force employees to pay employer expenses. Mr. Shockley also alleges that goPuff illegally retaliated against him by firing him for defending his workplace rights. Towards Justice represents the plaintiffs with co-counsel Nichols Kaster, PLLP.

Case Documents

Complaint

Press Release

10/11/2017 Munchies Drive the Gig Economy in Denver: GoPuff Delivery Driver Sues for Thousands of Drivers Allegedly Denied Minimum Wage and Overtime

From Our Co-Counsel, Nichols Kaster Attorneys at Law

Press

10/29/2017 Employee claims GoPuff failed to pay overtime wages

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Calling on the Government to Protect Marginalized Shepherds: Hispanic Affairs Project v. Perez

Towards Justice fights for justice for marginalized workers. We represent current and former shepherds, who until recently made only $2 or $3 an hour, alleging that the Federal Government has failed in its duty to protect workers and prevent wage stagnation in the sheep ranching industry. Our clients allege that the United States Departments of Labor and Homeland Security – charged by Congress with preventing the influx of cheap foreign labor and the creation of a permanent, underpaid foreign workforce – have failed in these duties in violation of federal law.  All plaintiffs seek correction of the regulatory mess these agencies have created, and one current shepherd seeks back wages from his employer, the Western Range Association. Towards Justice represents the plaintiffs with co-counsel Zuckerman Spaeder LLP.

Case Documents

DC Circuit Decision

Press Releases

9/13/2016 Shepherds Proceed with Claims that the U.S. Government Illegally Created a Permanent Workforce of Foreign Shepherds and Arbitrarily Denies Foreign Shepherds Wages for All Hours They Work

11/6/2015 The Federal Government Has Failed in its Duty to Protect Workers and Prevent Wage Stagnation, Shepherds Allege

Press

3/13/2017 Ranchers, DOL Fight Shepherds’ Wage Floor Challenge

11/5/2015 Exploited sheepherders win pay raise in court—but their struggle isn’t over yet

10/15/2015 Shepherds Argue DOL Visa Rules Keep Wages Too Low

10/13/2015 Sheepherders Are Set to Get a Raise

10/1/2015 Montrose group files lawsuit over sheepherder wages

9/17/2015 DOL Slams Injunction Bid In H-2A Sheepherder Suit

8/25/2015 Immigrant labor harming U.S. shepherds, lawsuit says

8/20/2015 Shepherds Sue Uncle Sam for Living Wage

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Combating Systemic Minimum Wage Violations for Nevada Shepherds: Cántaro et. al v. Western Range Association et. al

Towards Justice represents a proposed class of shepherds alleging systematic violation of the Nevada minimum wage by paying shepherds as little as two dollars an hour. Towards Justice represents the plaintiffs with co-counsel Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

Case Documents

Amended Complaint

Press

5/5/2016 Shepherds Say They’re Paid Just $2 an Hour

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In The Courtroom

Our litigators help workers advance legal claims that address systemic injustice. We use antitrust, anti-slavery, fraud, wage-and-hour, and common-law challenges to address the wide variety of practices that nickel-and-dime low-wage workers out of their hard-earned wages. We have represented a hundred thousand childcare workers alleging wage suppression, tens of thousands of immigrant detainees alleging forced labor, and hundreds of construction workers, shepherds, manicurists, janitors, and kitchen hood cleaners. We are leaders in challenging anti-competitive practices that reduce worker bargaining power and support marginalized people who challenge structural impediments to their advancement.

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