MacArthur Fellows Program

Jennifer Gordon

Attorney and Community Organizer | Class of 1999

Attorney and Community Organizer
Brooklyn, New York
34 at time of award
Published July 1, 1999

About Jennifer's Work

Jennifer Gordon is an attorney and a community organizer who founded the Workplace Project in 1992 as a worker’s center to fight employment abuse and discrimination against immigrant workers.

The Project provides legal services, designs educational programs, carries out organizing campaigns, and develops cooperative business initiatives in a coordinated effort to protect immigrant workers’ rights. The Project model fosters mutual support and exchange; workers must become actively involved in the Project’s educational and community programs in order to receive support and legal representation. In 1997, the project won its campaign in New York State to pass the strongest, wage-enforcement penalty laws in the country. In 1998, Gordon stepped down as head of the Project to explore new strategies for worker and community organizing. At that point, the Project had provided legal services to over 1,400 immigrant workers. She left a flourishing institution that trains and relies on immigrant-worker leadership and that has one of the few all immigrant-worker boards in the United States.


Gordon is an associate professor of law at Fordham University’s Law School. She is the author of Suburban Sweatshops: The Fight for Immigrant Rights (2005).

Gordon received a B.A. (1987) from Harvard/Radcliffe College and a J.D. (1992) from Harvard Law School.

Recent News

Since 2003, Jennifer Gordon has been affiliated with Fordham University School of Law, where she is currently a Professor of Law. She teaches courses in the fields of immigration and labor law, and she researches and writes about improving standards for global labor migrants and low-wage workers, as well as about the relationship of law to organizing and social change. She was a 2013–2014 Open Society Fellow and developed case studies of innovative approaches to the regulation of labor recruitment and the eradication of forced labor in the context of guest work programs.

Updated July 2015

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