Patricia Kakalec

Patricia Kakalec

Founder of Workers' Rights Law Center of New York (WRLC)

2004 Global Fellow

New York’s Hudson Valley is presently undergoing great population and job growth as the suburbs of New York City move northward. The new, largely immigrant workforce faces poor workplace conditions and systemic abuses including wage loss, injury, and sexual harassment.

By offering free legal services to this population, the WRLC addresses workers’ urgent legal needs stemming from workplace abuses. At the same time, WRLC uses litigation, educational outreach and relationships in the community to serve as a bridge between immigrant workers and organized labor unions. Located in Kingston, New York, WLRC’s strategy for supporting the Hudson Valley’s new immigrant workforce is built on the belief that unions, with their resources and community support, can provide immigrant workers with important access to power. WLRC offers three programs: Know Your Rights Workshops; trainings of volunteers who accompany workers to small claims court to recover unpaid wages; and litigation.

Tricia Kakalec is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Workers Rights Law Center of New York, Inc. (WRLC) in Kingston, New York, where she represents low-wage and immigrant workers in cases involving employment and civil rights. Prior to co-founding the WRLC in 2004, Tricia represented farmworkers in New York State for six years, most recently with Farmworker Legal Services of New York. She was also an attorney in private practice in New York City for three years, and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Denis R. Hurley in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She presently serves on the Board of Directors of the New York Immigration Coalition and as a Commissioner of the City of Kingston Human Rights Commission. Tricia is a 1993 graduate of Harvard Law School.