IRA gives guidance to vulnerable workers
Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network received a call from an immigrant neighbor; he had been injured while he was working at his job. Due to his injury, he was demoted to a less physically demanding position, which was later deemed unnecessary by his employer. His employer was urging him to sign a form in order to receive his last paycheck. At this point, the immigrant needed help to know whether his employer had wrongfully terminated him, because of his injury.
When faced with cases like this, volunteers with BIIN’s Information/Assistance/Referral (IRA) program first work to sort out the details. The client had sustained an injury to his right arm, which made it difficult for him to do his regular job. He began receiving physical therapy for the injury, and was moved to a less demanding position within the same company. Eventually, his employer pressured his primary doctor to release him, as they were no longer willing to pay for his physical therapy. Due to him not being able to do his old job, his employer then terminated him. This left him not only without a job or insurance, but also with a disability that made it harder for him to work in his initial capacity.
The client did not know of any reliable ways to find legal help in the Bryan area, but a friend had recommended that he contact BIIN. The volunteer assigned to the case at the IRA walk-in clinic was Mark Lacey, who met with the client, listened to his story, and then explained how he could get a free consultation with a local attorney. While BIIN volunteers could not directly aid this man with this issue, Lacey was able to use his knowledge and experience to connect the client with other community resources, where he can get the legal advice he needs. Sometimes, finding a sympathetic ear and a solid recommendation of where to go next is all that a neighbor needs.
Thanks to spring 2022 IRA intern Gaby Lozano for this account and to volunteer Mark Lacey for his on-going work with the IRA program.