Chandra Bhatnagar is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Human Rights Program. His practice centers on the intersection of racial justice and immigration, with specific focus on the rights of low-wage immigrant workers, undocumented workers, and guestworkers. He is also involved in litigation and advocacy regarding the use of international and foreign law in U.S. courts and the domestic implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Bhatnagar serves as counsel in David, et al. v. Signal International, LLC, et al., and EEOC v. Signal International, LLC, lawsuits on behalf of over 500 Indian men trafficked into the U.S. as guestworkers and subjected to abuse, involuntary servitude, and racial discrimination; Awad v. Ziriax, et al. a legal challenge to Oklahoma’s proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting Oklahoma judges from considering “international law” or “Sharia law”; and a petition filed in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on behalf of undocumented workers whose rights were violated in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB. He successfully litigated Lama v. Rana, a quantum meruit lawsuit brought on behalf of a Nepali domestic worker against her abusive employer, and filed a Request for Precautionary Measures to the IACHR on behalf of residents of Villas del Sol, Puerto Rico, who were subjected to police brutality, denial of access to basic water and electrical services, and forced eviction. Bhatnagar is the principal author of The Persistence of Racial and Ethnic Profiling in the United States (2009), a report submitted to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Bhatnagar was a Staff Attorney and Skadden Fellow with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he directed the South Asian Workers' Project for Human Rights, a community-based project providing legal services to low-wage workers from South Asia. Previously, he was the Assistant Director of Columbia University's "Bringing Human Rights Home Project," where he worked to improve conditions affecting post 9-11 detainees and efforts to organize a coalition of human rights defenders in the U.S. Bhatnagar has also worked internationally, partnering with a leading NGO in India in applying human rights standards to their anti-child labor/bonded labor campaigns, and domestically with the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he did immigrants' rights and anti-police brutality organizing, and served as the interim director of the Ella Baker Summer Intern Program. He received a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and an LL.M. with a focus in international human rights from Columbia Law School.