Legal Access Initiative
Ana Montesinos, a Cambridge hotel housekeeper, tripped over a sheet, severely injuring her right knee. When her temp agency employer refused to grant he workers compensation to pay for surgery, Montesinos turned to the MassCOSH Worker Center.
MassCOSH staff helped Montesinos obtain medical documentation and linked her with legal committee member Paul Murphy. “Ana had visited a health center initially and they misclassified the injury,” said Murphy. “MassCOSH assistance was instrumental in allowing Ana to find treating physicians who… classified it as a work injury.” As a result of Montesinos’ hard-fought efforts and support from Murphy and MassCOSH, the temp agency’s insurer compensated Montesinos.
MassCOSH Legal Access Initiative links the state’s lowest income and most vulnerable workers with legal representation and enforcement resources to help them achieve their workplace rights. Through this initiative, workers address a host of labor violations such as health and safety, workers compensation, wage and hour and defend against sexual harassment, assault, discrimination, and retaliation.
To maximize impact and effectiveness and to connect with traditionally hard-to-reach populations, MassCOSH:
- Expands beyond addressing individual cases to impacting entire workplaces by encouraging workers to recruit their co-workers to participate in legal, enforcement and organizing efforts.
- Provides critical support to cases, such as linking workers with experienced occupational health providers who can provide documentation critical to the success of a workers compensation or third party case.
- When appropriate, helps workers and their attorneys gain leverage through other forms of employer pressure such as government enforcement or public pressure.
- Involves workers as leaders in the process so they are not just recipients of legal justice but active participants who continue to promote economic justice long after their case is over.
- Engages workers who have benefited from our worker center as leaders in reaching out and encouraging other workers to participate.
Since July 1, 2007, when MassCOSH initiated the Legal Access Initiative within its Immigrants’ Worker Center, over 1,000 workers have benefited from legal assistance to address injuries, physical and sexual assaults, and wage and hour violations.
MassCOSH Lawyers’ Committee
The purpose of the MassCOSH Lawyers’ Committee is to:
- Foster referrals to attorneys from MassCOSH
- Engage the legal community in policy and legislation efforts
- Encourage attorney contributions to articles, educational materials, and workshops
- Support MassCOSH’s advocacy and other efforts.
Members of the network meet twice each year to discuss specific topics that directly relate to their interests as well as MassCOSH and its members’ concerns. Speakers and other experts are brought in according to topic. Other correspondence throughout the year takes place through an email listserve and conference calls.
The lawyers who belong to our network benefit through dozens of referrals, a vibrant web of supporters and specialists and efforts by MassCOSH members to ensure safe and healthy jobs and communities for all.
To learn more about the MassCOSH Lawyers’ Committee or the Legal Access Initiative, contact Marcy Goldstein-Gelb at 617-825-7233 x15 or email@example.com