Advocating for Client Rights: A Success Story

PeerNet Chrstina Caspersen McPherson

Christina Caspersen McPherson, Senior Employment Specialist with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Baltimore, has a BA focused on peace a conflict resolution. She advocated for indigenous populations on the Hill when working for the Leadership Council for Human Rights. She is a proud Pittsburgh native who now calls Baltimore ‘home.’

Christina Caspersen McPherson, Senior Employment Specialist at the IRC Baltimore (and Higher Peer Advisor) believes strongly that advocating for client rights to work is an essential part of our jobs.

Read an interview where she talks about her success in winning four weeks of back pay for a client with the help of the Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC).

You’ll learn that our clients have the right to work before they receive a Social Security number or card and hear exactly how employers can complete various federal forms and payroll system information.

You’ll be able to access links to a number of specific resources provided by OSC and a sample letter Christina uses to help clients communicate their rights directly to employers.

Higher: How did you find out that your client wasn’t getting paid?

Christina Caspersen McPherson (CCM): Lily (not her real name) came to the office distraught because she was sent home from her new job after a week. Her employer told her, “Come back when you have your Social Security card. We cannot have you work without it.”

Lily speaks enough English for me to be certain that a lack of English comprehension wasn’t the problem. Her motivation, initiative and work readiness were also well-established. In fact, she started work as a housekeeper in less than a month from her arrival.

Her first employer hired her without a Social Security number. Transportation issues forced her to leave that job, but she quickly found a new position, the one we’re talking about today.

She told me that she was upset because she genuinely enjoyed the job as a car wash crew member. She felt singled out because other refugee friends working on her team had not been sent home.

She knew her right to work without a Social Security card, and knew that employers can hire someone who has not yet received their Social Security number. Even though she explained that right to the employer, she was still told to go home.

Click here to read the whole interview, get resources and more.



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