Tomas E. Margain has been a licensed attorney since 1997. He was born in Mexico City and moved to the United States in 1979 when he was eight years old. He sees the story of his family mirroring the type of law he practices. An emphasis is placed on rights of immigrants in our society and the role of small businesses to both employ and offer immigrants the opportunity to become business owners. This however needs to be tempered with justice at work. His maternal great grandfather emigrated from Europe to the United States and was able to establish what is now a fourth generation family owed business in Washington D.C. His paternal lineage includes families who can trace their roots back in Mexico for over 200 years. They include a destitute Irishman who boarded a steamer ship headed to New York City and decided to move to Mexico and help open a plumbing business in the 1800’s. He did this after meeting an Italian family on the long cross Atlantic voyage. His children and grandchildren went on to become architects, doctors and lawyers. The common thread in his family history is that he is the descendants of immigrants who though hard work, sacrifice and access to justice established roots in their community and moved from penniless immigrants to owners of businesses.
Tomas E. Margain moved to California in 1989 to study English literature at U.C. Berkeley. While in college he worked in cafes and restaurants and was exposed to a multicultural and multilingual workplace. This led to a passion for issues of workplace and immigrant rights. It also led to his pursuing first a Master’s Degree in Latin American Studies at UCLA and then the study of law at UC Hastings College of Law.
After law school, Mr. Margain went on to clerk for three judges in the Sonoma County Superior Court and after completing one year as a research attorney joined the law firm of Van Bourg, Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld where he worked for three years as an associate and had the privilege of representing Building and Construction Trade and Service Worker Unions. While at this firm, Mr. Margain began focusing on wage and hour issues and representing workers in individual and class actions over pay issues.
In 2001, Mr. Margain opened up his office in San Francisco’s Mission District representing restaurant, janitorial and construction workers in cases involving unpaid wages and other workplace issues. He began at a street level office on 16th and Capp Street where anyone from an irate business owner, who had been sued by one of his clients, to a humble immigrant could come in and talk to him. After two years, he moved his office to the renovated Hamm’s Brewery building near the old Seals Stadium. Even though he now took an elevator to his office he did not hire a receptionist and took his own calls to allow him the same access to those seeking help or an argument.
After seven years, in 2008, Mr. Margain relocated his practice to San Jose and expanded his practice to also include representing small businesses is similar cases. While Mr. Margain is selective in the defense work he does, he believes that it keeps him grounded as he can use his experience representing workers to find solutions to workplace disputes.
Mr. Margain feels that the name Justice at Work Law Group represents what his office strives for. Justice at Work has to be seen both from the employer and employee perspective. While there are cases of clear worker exploitation, many times the dispute arises from simple ignorance of the law or shortcuts taken by struggling business. Bankrupting a struggling business that failed to pay a worker correctly does no one any good. Justice at Work Law Group also seeks to educate employers. We are not here to take contrary positions to the law or bully anyone. We help employers who want to comply with laws and are in a situation where they need someone on their side to resolve their dispute. True justice at work comes from understanding this reality.
Mr. Margain represents clients in the following: