Cornell Develops App to Help Illegal Immigrants File Workplace Complaints

Thousands of demonstrators begin their downtown march to City Hall in one of several May Day marches and rallies in southern California and in at least 75 cities nationwide to press for immigrant and labor rights on May 1, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

Computer developers at Cornell University recently showcased their work on a new mobile app that will help illegal immigrants file workplace grievances like “wage theft.”

The app was recently showcased at the New York City Council’s Rapid Response Lab. The New York Times reported on the development of the app last year, claiming that it would serve as a tool for “undocumented workers” to report that they had been cheated by their employers.

“This digital inclusion is elevating activists to new levels as they are increasingly using the technology of today to send out a message and organize communities that are under attack,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The app, which is called Jornaler, was first released on app stores in November. It was developed to help undocumented workers file workplace grievances against their employers. According to the Workers Institute at Cornell University, many day laborers report unfair treatment and wage theft.

By keeping a permanent record of all hours logged, workers have a means of ensuring that they are paid for their work. The app records a phone number for workers instead of a name.

Lawyers from the Urban Justice Center are utilized to assist day laborers who might have wages withheld from an employer.

“The app is not just reactionary,” Manuel Castro, the executive director of New Immigrant Empowerment Group (NICE), said. By keeping records, he said, workers will be prepared to prove they have not been paid. “Just in case something happens, they have it stored,” Mr. Castro said.

Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at