Photo of Symone Wango

Symone Wango

  • Hosted by Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Morgan Stanley
  • Service location Albany, New York
  • Law school Albany Law School
  • Issue area Racial Justice, Workers' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Through the Worker Protection Program at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Symone (she/her/hers) will advocate on behalf of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in low-income jobs, through direct representation and worker rights education in employment discrimination claims, wage theft claims, and worker safety issues.

The Capital Region of New York, (Albany, Schenectady, and Rensselaer Counties), has a disproportionate population of low-income workers who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Roughly 25% of service jobs in the capital region are held by BIPOC, yet this group makes up only 14% of the workforce.  The Black population makes up only 6% of the workforce and has a 13% unemployment rate. Adding to this disparity, Black, low-income, workers have significant barriers to employment as they represent 83% of individuals seeking reentry services and 61% of individuals seeking employment-related legal services at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York. The Worker Protection Program fills a vital need in the community as the only free legal service provider of direct representation, and education for low-income workers of color experiencing employment discrimination, wage theft, and workplace safety issues.

Fellowship Plans

 During her Fellowship, Symone will provide direct representation to low-income workers of color for employment discrimination claims, wage theft claims, and workplace safety issues. Symone will launch a “know your rights in the workplace” campaign by engaging low-income workers in the area and coordinating with local community-based organizations and service providers that serve low-income workers.

Growing up in a working-class family taught me that your wages do not determine whether you get to work with a sense of pride and dignity.

Symone Wango /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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