By Robyn Tarnofsky
For five years, Ifechi’s supervisor called him racist slurs like “African dog.” Ifechi then watched as his co-workers received seniority-based raises while he continued to work for minimum wage. But when Ifechi spoke up, his supervisor retaliated by firing him.
At NYLAG, we believe that no one deserves to be discriminated against because of their race, ethnicity, or national origin.
Ifechi knew that his only recourse was to go to court but the lawyers he met would not take his case because the potential payout in light of Ifechi’s minimum wage salary was too low to entice them. So, he went to federal court alone and was immediately overwhelmed. He had no idea how to craft his case so that the court would take his painful experiences seriously.
Luckily, the judge in Ifechi’s case recognized the seriousness of his situation and referred him to me at NYLAG’s Legal Clinic for Pro Se Litigants.
individuals served by the Pro Se Clinic last year
negotiated in favorable settlements last year
My team and I provide legal advice to pro se litigants in federal court to prepare them to represent themselves in employment discrimination suits, in civil rights cases, in social security appeals, and so much more.
Without us, many of these pro se cases would likely be dismissed, not because their claims are invalid, but because the litigants are unable to speak the language of our legal system. When that happens, these pro se litigants are denied access to justice and are left mistrusting the judicial system.
We helped Ifechi draft his legal documents and negotiate a settlement that will enable him to support himself while he searches for a new job where his diligence and hard work will be valued.
Robyn Tarnofsky is the Director of NYLAG’s Legal Clinic for Pro Se Litigants.