Workers’ rights lawyer Joe Sayas Jr. wins PH Presidential Award
LOS ANGELES — Lawyer Joe Sayas Jr., who has rendered more than a quarter of a century of service championing the cause of the working class, was recently awarded the 2018 Presidential Awards in Malacañang for 25 “outstanding” overseas Filipinos and foreign-based organizations.
“The voice of Filipinos in U.S. courtrooms… A litigation attorney straight out of a John Grisham novel…who champions the rights of the underprivileged and the minorities, and served as the voice of Filipinos in U.S. courtrooms” is how Philippine officialdom sees Joe Sayas. [Sayas is also a columnist for INQUIRER.net.]
One does not speak of Joe without mention of the massive amount of settlements he has recovered for his clients — close to $125 million.
As the lead counsel in one of the most recognized class action suits on the status for some 500 truck drivers, Joe challenged the companies’ business practice of classifying drivers as independent contractors in the Long Beach/Los Angeles and Oakland ports in California.
Sparked by his own convictions, he won a federal court judgment for the workers: A ruling that they are indeed employees as a matter of law. It was a landmark case in the trucking industry.
Joe Sayas’ legal team recovered $11,040.000 for the drivers, the highest class action settlement in the history of port trucking.
The ruling did not just put a halt to some firms’ well-known efforts of deducting fuel and insurance costs from drivers, it also established the occupational status that made it possible for the drivers to work in “collective negotiation” for key benefits that previously never came their way.
The drivers also obtained health insurance benefits not solely for themselves, but aksi for their families. The winning workers received retirement benefits, paid medical and vacation leaves, pay for each hour work was rendered, and secured the Workers Compensation protection due them as defined by law.
Sayas has fought for nurses, technicians, salespersons, couriers, security guards, including workers in offices, hospitals, aerospace, supermarkets, laboratories, restaurants and warehouse facilities. He has also championed the rights of immigrant workers victimized by human trafficking, as well as employees unlawfully discriminated due to their disability, race, national origin, or gender.
Sayas very recently won a $2-million recovery for the family of a mentally disabled man who was brutally killed by a police officer in Long Beach.
One longtime jurist shared that Sayas is extremely proud of his academic background as an alumnus of the University of the Philippines College of Law and the Georgetown University Law Center and practices his profession as “a true Filipino” inspired by the values of his ancestral homeland.