Maya (she/her/hers) will establish a farmworker Medical-Legal Partnership hosted by the Central West Justice Center and in partnership with the Connecticut River Valley Farmworker Health Program to provide holistic care and advocacy in housing, benefits, and employment matters to farmworkers in Massachusetts.
Thousands of farmworkers in Western Massachusetts work for long hours and low pay to put food on our tables. In addition to extremely hazardous labor, farmworkers are twice as likely to live in severe poverty, face housing instability, poor living conditions, and food insecurity. Some farmworkers are also isolated and difficult to reach through traditional legal aid models. Maya’s project will develop and implement a Medical-Legal Partnership to address farmworkers’ unmet legal needs and work with medical clinic staff to improve the health and wellbeing of farmworkers and their families.
Maya is passionate about improving access to critical services for farmworkers in her community and aims to use her legal education to fight for the health justice and legal rights of this underserved population.
During her Fellowship, Maya will represent farmworker clients with their housing, benefits, and employment needs. She will be on-site in the farmworker medical clinic to provide advice and consultation to farmworkers. Maya will also engage with farmworkers and other organizations to conduct outreach and training on the rights and resources available to farmworkers. Finally, Maya will engage in policy advocacy on issues impacting farmworker health at the state and national levels.
Farmworkers are one of the most essential and underserved populations in Massachusetts. Having grown up in Springfield, I am proud to develop a model of holistic services to improve the health and well-being of farmworkers living in my community.
Maya McCann /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow
Gabo (he/him/his) will advance the rights of low-wage, Spanish-speaking workers in Yakima, Washington, experiencing wage theft, health and safety violations, discrimination, and retaliation.
In May 2020, warehouse workers across the Yakima Valley walked off the job demanding stronger protections as COVID-19 raged across their workplaces. Overwhelmingly Latino and often undocumented, these workers suffered the highest rate of infection on the West Coast, with no access to unemployment, workers’ compensation, or adequate health care. No other legal services provider in the state can help individual workers in employment matters regardless of immigration status. As a result, Yakima workers face a profound access-to-justice gap that makes it nearly impossible to recover stolen wages, enforce workplace safety protections, and fight discrimination in the workplace.
Gabo will represent individual workers with wage theft, health and safety, discrimination, and retaliation claims. He will also provide assistance to workers filing administrative complaints with state agencies. Alongside Fair Work Center’s Yakima-based educators, he will develop Spanish-language know your rights materials for Yakima workers. Finally, he will develop strategies to increase Washington labor agency enforcement of state wage and hour and health and safety standards.
As the child of a Latino immigrant, I went to law school to use my language skills to empower workers. Fair Work Center’s holistic model creates the opportunity for the type of collaborative, creative approaches I’ve seen transform the conditions and power dynamics of workplaces.
Gabo Gutierrez /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow
Anne serves Haitian farmworkers in Central Florida to improve work-related social determinants of health.
Farmworkers comprise one of the most integral workforces in the United States, but they are also among the most abused and underrepresented workers. In Florida, 40% of farmworkers are Haitian. Due to language barriers and their smaller population, Haitian farmworkers have difficulties accessing legal aid and face unique barriers to healthcare access, including unfamiliarity with preventative medicine, concerns about the safety of Western pharmacological medicine, and mistrust of the public health system. Anne works to help remove the barriers that cause the Haitian community to go without the legal aid that they need. Her community has been an instrumental part of her life, and her dream is to serve this community by representing Haitian farmworkers.
Through previous advocacy efforts and developing this project, Anne was reminded that the Haitian-Creole-speaking farmworker community is not a priority in Central Florida. Time and time again, Anne was told that this community lacks resources and research because they are smaller than other immigrant populations in Central Florida. Anne hopes this sentiment ends with her. Anne aspires to help remove the barriers that cause the Haitian community to go without the legal aid that they need. Her community has been an instrumental part of her life, and her dream is to serve this community by representing Haitian farmworkers with their legal claims.
Fellowship Highlights to Date
During the first year of the Fellowship, Anne has:
- Providing full representation to 12 clients and brief services, advice, and/or referrals to over 85 individuals
- Conducted over 25 presentations and meetings with organizations and health clinics regarding the work of the project
- Collaborating with the Polk County Public Schools Migrant Education program and the Florida Division of Emergency Management to encourage free vaccinations, enroll migrant children in school, and provide free legal information about Temporary Protected Status for the Haitian community
- Successfully advocated, in partnership with other organizations, for the re-launch of the Farmworker Advisory Council in Florida, which will be comprised of farmworkers and advocates and will advise local and state leaders on issues like COVID-19 testing, vaccine access, and heat illness in the community
- Participating in the University of Central Florida (UCF) Farmworker clinic
- Collaborating with local 362, an affiliate of UNITE HERE, a union representing workers throughout North America, including on their annual citizenship clinic
In the next year, Anne plans to:
- Continue to develop relationships with community organizations, local universities, and pro bono attorneys
- Host two legal clinics
- Host two Know Your Rights trainings, with a focus on expanding legal services to Haitian-Creole farmworkers who have never received services
“L'union fait la force”—which means unity is strength—is Haiti’s national motto. As a Haitian-American woman and child of Haitian immigrants, I am driven to not simply give back, but to help create change to better the lives of Haitian farmworkers.
Anne Piervil /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow