Long Island Ban on Day Laborers Found Illegal

     CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) – A law meant to flush day laborers out of a New York City suburb in Nassau County is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled.
     The town of Oyster Bay, about an hour north of New York City, passed a law in 2009 that prohibited day laborers from standing near public streets, and from stopping or flagging down cars to solicit work. It also prohibited drivers from picking up day laborers.
     A census found in 2010 that Oyster Bay is 85 percent white. The town claimed that the day laborers posed a safety hazard in soliciting drivers and clogged traffic.
     Cabbies who stopped for hailing customers were exempt from the law, which faced a constitutional challenge from Centro de la Comunidad Hispana de Locust Valley and the Workplace Project.
     A federal judge quickly blocked the law as unconstitutional, and the Second Circuit kept the injunction intact in 2011.
     U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley handed the challengers another victory Thursday with a 44-page decision granting them summary judgment.
     “The aggressive solicitation of employment from occupants of motor vehicles, without question, raises valid concerns about the dangers that can arise therefrom,” Hurley wrote. “The town’s response to those concerns – the ordinance – is not, however, a constitutionally permissive one.
     Hurley closed the decision with a plea for “the parties to this case to seek a safe, constitutionally valid solution to address those concerns.”
     The so-called shape-up sites where laborers gather are typically found on busy streets, in front of home-improvement stores and gas stations.
     At least 30 laborers, mostly Latinos from Central America, stand daily along one such site, a four-block stretch of a two-lane road, to get work painting, gardening and doing other construction-related jobs.
     Some residents of the town complained that the workers caused traffic jams by soliciting work from passing cars. Others complained that the workers peed and pooped on public property, and made the streets unsafe and unsightly.
     Hurley said the town had good but misguided intentions to ensure public safety.
     “The ordinance in this case targets efforts to solicit employment, which is not in and of itself illegal,” he said.

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