Wage theft cases provide a much-needed community service and access to justice for an underserved segment of our community. They also provide great learning experiences for UNM Law students, who develop both solid working relationships with their clients as well as critical professional skills.
"Wage theft" is a broad term that refers generally to workers whose employers refuse to pay them what they are due. These cases can be "wage and hour" cases when the dispute is between an employer and an employee or breach of contract cases when the dispute is between an employer and an independent contractor.
The Business & Tax Clinic section of the UNM School of Law Clinical Program works with El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, an Albuquerque immigrants' rights organization, to manage the referral relationship and screen potential cases.
Students meet with the wage and tax clients to develop a thorough understanding of the facts and how they will approach proof of the material facts. In the process, they develop solid working relationships with segments of our community that they otherwise might not interact with, and they have an opportunity to apply their legal skills to correct manifest injustice. These cases also help UNM Law School students develop critical technical skills. To date, the Business Tax Clinic has screened eight wage theft cases referred by El Centro.