The Litigator of the Year Award honors an individual who has shown exceptional skill in securing justice for survivors of forced labor or sex trafficking. Aaron Halegua, who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, litigated an enormously significant civil trafficking case on behalf of Chinese construction workers trafficked for forced labor to Saipan. The workers, forced to build casinos, filed their case under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Earlier this year, a federal court awarded seven workers Aaron represented in the case $5.9 million in damages. The case is one of the largest construction worker civil trafficking cases ever seen in the federal courts. Aaron is a skilled and courageous leader in the anti-trafficking civil litigation field.
On My Side 2021 Honoree
Litigator of the Year
Founding Member, Aaron Halegua, PLLC
About the Honoree
Aaron Halegua is the Founding Member of Aaron Halegua, PLLC and a research fellow at both NYU Law School’s Center for Labor and Employment Law and U.S.-Asia Law Institute. His expertise includes labor and employment law, human trafficking and forced labor, litigation and dispute resolution, corporate social responsibility and supply chains, and legal aid in the United States, China, and elsewhere. In over twelve years of representing immigrant workers, he has litigated cases in the nail salon, restaurant, construction, health care, and car service industries. Mr. Halegua recently assisted over 2,400 Chinese construction workers trafficked to Saipan to recover $14 million in backpay through the U.S. Department of Labor, and in May 2021, obtained a $5.9 million judgment from the U.S. district court in Saipan for the forced labor claims of seven of those workers. Mr. Halegua has consulted for Apple, American Bar Association, Asia Foundation, Brown University, Ford Foundation, International Labor Rights Forum, International Labour Organization, PILNet, Solidarity Center, and SEIU on human trafficking and other labor issues in China, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Mexico. He is the author of numerous book chapters, articles, reports, and op-eds about labor issues, including his most recent book chapter Forced Labor in the US Construction Industry (2021). Mr. Halegua has an A.B. from Brown University and J.D. from Harvard Law School. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Peking University Law School after college. He speaks, reads and writes Mandarin Chinese.