Thank You to Wage Justice Center Sponsors!

We’re so grateful to the following sponsors who made our annual 11th Anniversary Celebration a success! About 200 guests gathered at the lovely home of our hosts, Rebecca Brown and Bob Rasmussen, USC Gould Professors to hear how Wage Justice Center pierces corporate veil schemes to return wages to the workers who earned them.

Please join us in thanking our incredibly generous donors:

Guardians of Justice
Friends of An Le
UFCW Local 770

Advocates of Justice
Allen Matkins
Law Office of Nina Baumler
Bush Gottlieb
Joshua and Jennifer del Castillo
Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and UCLA Labor Center
Gilbert & Sackman
Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood
The Lê Family
Anne Lieu & Melvin Yee
Bryan Schwartz Law
Law Office of Carol Sobel
UCLA School of Law’s David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law & Policy
Wage Justice Center Board of Directors

Promoters of Justice
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
Bet Tzedek
Pamela Chandran & Bruce Mazen
Hadsell Stormer & Renick, LLP
National Lawyers Guild
Anthony Truong & Matt DeCarolis
USW, Local 675
Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld
Tonette Jaramilla

Friends of Justice
Angel City Brewery
Judge James Bianco & Lisa Mead
Border Grill
Rebecca Brown & Bob Rasmussen
Danning, Gill, Diamond & Kollitz
Everson Royce
Cathy & Todd Millstein
Robert M. Myers
Playa Vista Insurance Services
Gail D. Solo, Attorney
Teukolsky Law

If you’d like to help return stolen wages to low-wage workers, you can make a contribution, give cy pres funds or volunteer your time, as a pro bono attorney. Contact Kerith Dilley at if you are interested in volunteering your or your firm’s expertise or support.

Homeowner Risks Foreclosure Over A Couple Thousand Dollars

Ricardo worked at a few properties for a subcontractor. He toiled for hours on cabinetry in a TV & sound room at one home and improving kitchen fixtures at another.

Although Ricardo was shorted hours on all jobs for this subcontractor, he was treated well and paid on time, so he continued working.

Ricardo is married with 3 daughters, and although his wife works, their combined $28,000 annual salary is stretched thin across rent, food and clothing. He couldn’t afford to rock the boat by demanding to be paid for all his hours and to take all his meal & rest breaks.

Assuming the bounced check was a clerical error, Ricardo contacted the subcontractor, explained what happened and politely requested a new check. However, the subcontractor refused to pay Ricardo and soon stopped returning his calls.

At that point, Ricardo contacted Wage Justice and we evaluated his claim for the bounced check. We also analyzed the back hours that weren’t paid and the denied meal & rest breaks. We determined that work on two of the many properties met all the criteria for a Mechanic’s Lien, and we recorded Mechanic’s Liens on these two properties. Our Liens included all hours worked and unpaid, as well as the meal & rest break penalties and the bounced check payment.

Because the fees for Mechanic’s Liens spiked this year, we wrapped in the $360 in recording fees into our wage demand. The Wage Justice Center paid for the initial recording fees ($95/property to initially record and again $95/property to remove the Lien).

Shortly after we recorded the Liens, the General Contractor on the Venice property contacted our legal team and took responsibility. He is licensed and he employed the subcontractor who hired Ricardo. He shared that he had been contacted by the angry homeowner about the Lien and he’d addressed it with the subcontractor, who had admitted to not paying Ricardo. At all times, the General Contractor was respectful of Ricardo’s work and – unlike many licensed and unlicensed contractors – he did not dispute that Ricardo completed the work, he did not disparage the quality of Ricardo’s work and he did not question the immigration status of the worker.

We appreciated this General Contractor’s respect and diligence. Because of this General Contractor’s adherence and respect for the law, ​Ricardo quickly recovered his wages from that job.

Unfortunately, the Hancock Park homeowner initially refused to pay, forcing us to file a new and separate foreclosure lawsuit 90 days after the original Lien was recorded. He subsequently engaged his attorney, who advised on unrelated issues, who worked hard to impress upon his client that, in fact, he would be forced to sell his home over approximately $2,000. After weeks of fruitful negotiations with the homeowner and their attorney, we recovered Ricardo’s back wages.

Unfortunately, the recalcitrance of the Hancock Park homeowner is not an aberration. In the last year, we’ve seen a spike by 75% of homeowners refusing to pay within 90 days of the recording of the Lien. We believe in this era of emboldened property owners, that people are willing to take their chances and draw out the legal process in order to evade their responsibility and payment.

Wage Justice is not deterred by these stall tactics. We’re pursuing economic justice for all our clients, no matter how much work it takes!

A Night Under The Stars!

To help pay tribute to these inspiring leaders, you can buy your tickets or sponsor the event online or you can download our Gala Sponsorship Packages to mail in your contribution.

The deadline for sponsorship listing and ads in our Tribute Journal is August 20, 2018.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kerith Dilley at 213.291.6883 or

Celebrate the Accomplishments of Nancy Smyth, An Le, Victor Narro & Bryan Schwartz!

Join Wage Justice on Wednesday, September 5, festivities starting at 6pm, to thank economic justice heroes for their leadership.

Rebecca Brown and Bob Rasmussen have generously opened their home in Hancock Park to host the event. Rebecca and Bob are USC Gould School of Law Professors, where they have nurtured, mentored and empowered emerging public interest lawyers to effect change in our communities.

The Wage Justice Center is proud to recognize the accomplishments of four important leaders:

Attorney Advocate Award: Bryan Schwartz, Esq., of Bryan Schwartz Law

Sirolly/Yee Founders’ Award: An Le, Victor Narro & Nancy Smyth,
Wage Justice Center Founding Board Members

To buy tickets or sponsor the event, please click here

Victor Narro, Sirolly/Yee Founders’ Award

A nationally known expert on immigrant rights and low-wage workers, Victor Narro has been involved with immigrant rights and labor issues for over 30 years. Currently Project Director for the UCLA Downtown Labor Center, Victor’s focus is to provide leadership programs and policy campaign support for Los Angeles’ immigrant workers, policy and campaign planning for unions and worker centers, and internship opportunities for UCLA students.

Victor is core faculty for the Labor and Workplace Studies Program at UCLA and Lecturer in Law at UCLA Law School, where he teaches Community Lawyering and Low Wage Worker Organizing.

Victor was formerly the Co-Executive Director of Sweatshop Watch. Prior to that, he was the Workers’ Rights Project Director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) where he was involved with organizing day laborers, domestic workers, garment workers and gardeners. Before his tenure at CHIRLA, Victor worked in the Los Angeles Regional Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Among his many board memberships, Victor is a proud member of the Executive Board of the National Lawyers Guild – LA Chapter.

Victor is happily married to Laureen Lazarovici, a long-time labor activist and journalist.

An Le, Sirolly/Yee Founders’ Award

As the daughter of refugees from Vietnam, An Le was shaped by the labor exploitation she witnessed at a young age, prompting her to pursue a career committed to using comprehensive strategies to achieve justice and dignity for low-wage immigrant workers.

Along those lines, she had the privilege to work as a legal organizer for the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, a research analyst for SEIU-United Service Workers West, and as a project director of community engagement at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles.

She is currently a research analyst for SEIU-UHW, where she uses legal, regulatory, and policy strategies to support worker organizing efforts in California’s health care industry.

She proudly serves on the Board of Directors for the Wage Justice Center and Southeast Asian Community Alliance. An received her B.A. in Political Science from UCLA and her J.D. from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. In her free time, she enjoys sewing, reading, and playing with her dogs, Estelle and Butler.

Nancy Smyth, Sirolly/Yee Founders’ Award

Nancy is a California native whose parents hail from West Virginia and Northern Ireland. She has been an activist and social change agent for almost 40 years. Working as an organizer, a lawyer, and now a leadership coach, she has pioneered groundbreaking projects that have led to real change in people’s lives. Her career has included organizing workers in the underground economy, promoting policies that expand the rights of workers and immigrants, and legal advocacy on behalf of people re-entering the workforce after serving time. From establishing the first day laborer program in the country to creating workers’ rights projects at Public Counsel, CHIRLA, and Neighborhood Legal Services, she has dedicated her work to building power in communities and workplaces.

While at USC Gould School of Law, Nancy’s passion for workers’ rights was ignited by her involvement with the Labor Defense Network (which ran wage theft clinics across Los Angeles) and with CHIRLA, where she was instrumental in helping to beat back two anti-day laborer ordinances in Los Angeles and Glendale. She helped found CARECEN and Sweatshop Watch, and while at CHIRLA, she pioneered the Domestic worker Project where organizers and domestic workers agitated for better wages and working conditions and created their own superhero, SuperDomestica.

Nancy has spent the last ten years as the Leadership Development Director and internal coach for both LAANE and the Partnership for Working Families as well as doing outside coaching and consulting. Nancy sees coaching as a powerful tool for personal growth that is essential to building a compassionate and courageous social justice movement.

Nancy lives in Los Angeles, California and speaks English and Spanish. She loves to travel, garden, swim, and read Swedish detective novels.

Bryan Schwartz, Esq. of Bryan Schwartz Law, Attorney Advocate Award:

Bryan has advanced the field of workers’ rights and in private practice, he embodies public interest values. Bryan brings cases on behalf of low-wage workers and then persistently pursues justice while the employer pulls every shady tactic in the book. His signature case is the class action and wrongful termination case Amanda Quiles, Heather Turman, et al. v. Koji’s Japan, Inc. and Arthur J. Parent, Jr.

This is a classic tale of unscrupulous employer tactics: After Bryan filed the class action suit, the employer immediately fired the named plaintiff, and later closed all of his restaurants and filed for personal and corporate bankruptcy. Over more than seven years, Bryan and his firm secured back wages, damages, penalties, fees and costs from the individual employer after victories in bankruptcy court, a bench trial, a jury trial, at the Court of Appeal, and in collections proceedings.

The published decision in Turman v. Superior Court stands for the proposition that an individual owner, officer, and director can be personally liable for California wage violations.

He has developed a niche in Federal employees’ unique claims, and has led multi-plaintiff, class and collective actions involving overtime and other wage violations under state and federal laws across the country.

Before founding his own firm in 2009, Bryan led the San Francisco, CA, office of Nichols Kaster, PLLP. Previously, Mr. Schwartz practiced with the Washington, DC-based firm of Passman & Kaplan, PC, and clerked for the late Hon. Franklin Van Antwerpen, formerly a member of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Schwartz is a former member of the Executive Board of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA) and a current member of the Board of Directors of Legal Aid at Work.

After graduating from Cornell University and before law school at the UC Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall, Mr. Schwartz was a Federal Investigator (bilingual-Spanish) at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a campaign manager, and a school teacher in Costa Rica.

Among his many philanthropic endeavors, he is co-chair of the dads’ club at his daughter’s public school.

Cheers to 10 Years of Wage Justice!

Join us Wednesday, October 4, from 6-8:30pm, at Angel City Brewery (216 S. Alameda, LA, CA 90015).

We’re proud to recognize the accomplishments of two important leaders in our community:

Sirolly/Yee Founders’ Award: USC Gould School of Law

Pro Bono Attorney Award: Nina Baumler, Esq.

We’re excited to unveil our Founders’ Award this year! We named the award after our inspiring and visionary leaders, Matthew Sirolly and Melvin Yee, for their leadership and dedication to the cause of workers’ rights in California. They saw an unmet need – workers who “won” judgments but have not collected a single penny – and rather than just hope someone else would see it too, they launched a movement to put money in the hands of the workers who earned it.

Click here to buy your tickets or sponsor the event.

Come to Our Spring Garden Party with Kevin Kish!


Save The Date for WJC’s Annual Garden Party

Save the Date


Mark your calendars! The Wage Justice Center cordially invites you to our annual garden party on May 15, 2016. We enjoy the opportunity for our staff, Board Members, funders, community advocates, clients and supporters to mingle and build connections. We are especially honored to have Kevin Kish, Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, as this year’s featured speaker.

More details and a formal invitation to follow, but for now, SAVE THE DATE!!