Inspired by hard work of Auntie Pauline, other immigrants, attorney says
San Diego workers’ compensation attorney Robert A. McLaughlin of the Law Office of Robert A. McLaughlin recently received the 2017 Applicants’ Attorney Award from the Workers’ Compensation Section of the State Bar of California.
The annual award recognizes a single attorney in the entire State of California for their knowledge of the law, professional courtesy, community service, professionalism, recent contributions to the practice of workers’ compensation, service to clients and advocacy skills.
During his recent acceptance speech, attorney McLaughlin praised the hard work of immigrants and stressed the importance of continuing to protect the rights of immigrants in the workplace. And as he explained during his speech, his drive to fight for the rights of immigrants was inspired by his Auntie Pauline, a young immigrant who started working in New York City’s Garment District when she was 9 years old.
About Auntie Pauline
“She didn’t stop working until she was 72 years old. And when she stopped, she had to because there was a mandatory retirement age. She didn’t want to stop,” McLaughlin said. “She started working because her newly arrived to America family needed money. So she went out to work to support her little sister, her little brother and her grandfather.”
“She made so many sacrifices for her family, it’s amazing. One of the many sacrifices she made was when she was 18. She got a proposal for marriage. She turned it down because he wanted to move her to the suburbs and she needed to stay in the city to help support her family. She never got another marriage proposal again.”
“When she was working, she made sure my grandmother and her brother stayed in school. She wanted them to get the education she could not get. Lastly, when she got older and she moved in with my grandmother, every day she would come home from work from sewing all day and you know what she did? She went up the stairs to the top of the landing, flipped over the table, a sewing machine was under there and she sewed clothes for her nieces, including my mother, so they would look nice and they wouldn’t look like they were getting hand-me-downs.”
“The more I think about her, the thing that struck me the most was her hands. Her hands were gnarled and crooked and twisted and her knuckles were twice the size of everybody else. And at 14, I didn’t know anything so I asked her, ‘Auntie Pauline, why are your hands like that?’ And she said, ‘From years of pushing the heavy material through the sewing machine, day after day, week after week, month after month, for 63 years.”
“What struck me about my family history was this story was not unique to immigrants of that generation. Many of you may have similar stories in your family. But what got me is it’s also not unique to stories of our new immigrants. Granted, no one has to work at 9 years old anymore, thank God. But the immigrants, the only thing that’s changed is their ethnicity. They’re no longer Italians or European Jews. They’re Latinos and Asians. But the same stories of sacrifice come up again and again.”
“Politically, there’s been a push to do something about continuing traumas. We all hear it. We all know it’s coming. But I remind you, if you do not amend continued traumas correctly, you’re going to accidentally hurt the Auntie Paulines and these new immigrants and their rights. They need those protections.”
‘We can do it’
“As a community in workers’ compensation, we have to work together to… find a way to not hurt the Auntie Paulines, to not hurt the new immigrants. They need those rights and protections. We can do it. We’re a bunch of really smart people.”
Attorney McLaughlin also took the opportunity during his acceptance speech to thank his wife. “She’s the one who inspires me to be the best attorney I can be because I do not want to disappoint her. She makes me work extra hard.”
“I appreciate this award and everything it means,” McLaughlin added, “I am going to try to live up to it every day.”
Attorney McLaughlin has been practicing workers’ compensation law for more than 25 years in the San Diego area. To learn more about him or how his law firm can help you with your workers’ compensation case, contact our law firm and schedule your free case review today.