The EMPLEO program is an alliance between government agencies and community organizations to offer information about workers’ rights in Spanish. Samantha Díaz Roberts/MundoHispanico

Nuestra Comunidad: New program to defend Hispanic workers’ rights

When Suleika Meléndez left her last job in Georgia and did not receive payment for two weeks, she began to worry. At first, she was unsure where to go or whom to ask for assistance in resolving the issue. A quick stop at the customer service desk of the Georgia Department of Labor during a community event, however, led Meléndez to the first step in the process.

“Not only did I receive my payments, but so did other people who worked in the same place, they got back their withheld wages in the same way,” explained Meléndez.

The woman, who is originally from Puerto Rico, shared her story rcently during the launch of the EMPLEO program, an alliance between government agencies and community organizations that seeks to offer information about workers’ rights in Spanish and provide free help and guidance to Latino workers who live in Georgia, regardless of their legal status in the country.

Those in attendance at the event included representatives of various government agencies who also form part of the alliance, such as OSHA, the Department of Labor and the Atlanta mayor’s office.

The initiative, which is new to Georgia and will feature resources and information in Spanish, already exists in seven other states.

“The program offers a free and confidential help line to the community, where they can call to report any type of problem they may have in the workplace,” explained Sandra Achury, Managing Director of Economic Empowerment at the Latin American Association.

Individuals looking for assistance through this program can call 1-877-552-9832.

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