Senior Legal Advisor and Trainer
Reena Arora is a U.S. trained attorney who has worked with low-wage immigrant communities for over a decade and started her career after graduating law school with a non-governmental organization in northern Thailand, MAP Foundation (“MAP”), advocating for the rights of Myanmar migrant workers. During her time with MAP, she authored a report for the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) analyzing violations by the Thai government of international human rights laws in their treatment of Myanmar migrant women. The report focused on themes of violence against women, employment restrictions, labor exploitation, access to justice, and access to health. To collect information for the report, Reena performed seven 3-day trainings along the Thai-Myanmar border with over 200 migrant women. During that time, she also co-facilitated two three-week trainings on labor migration management for government officials from the Mekong region with the Mekong Migration Network at the Mekong Institute.
After nearly three years in Southeast Asia, Reena returned to the United States to represent low- wage immigrant workers in claims of unpaid wages and provide other legal support to community centers organizing workers. In the U.S., Reena worked with clients who had migrated from a wide range of countries throughout Asia, Latin America and Africa. Reena litigated cases in state and federal court and negotiated numerous successful settlements of back wages for her clients. Reena also worked closely on campaigns with the National Domestic Workers Alliance and legislative advocacy for the SWEAT Bill in New York State, a proposal designed to address the current crisis of workers’ inability to enforce court-ordered judgments against employers for unpaid wages.
In 2017, Reena published a scholarly article exploring how women Myanmar migrants in the domestic work and sex work industries in Thailand are impacted by national labor law exclusions, the influence of international law and local organizing movements. “Female Migration and Labor in Thailand: When Law and Society Continue to Exclude You,” UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs, 21 UCLA J. Int'l L. & For. Aff. 70 (February 2017)