In her native Sri Lanka, Yoga Pasupathipillai was too poor to go to college, buy a home, or even get married. But in 1995, she won the green card lottery to come to America and finally claimed the independence she craved. She worked constantly, corralling shopping carts, bagging groceries, and baking bread. She even earned enough for a dowry, but by then she was no longer interested in marriage. Work had made her happy, which made it all the more tragic last August when work claimed her life.
“It was absolutely horrific,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety And Health, a nonprofit that advocates for worker safety. “I was just appalled that this could happen to this wonderful woman who goes to work and comes here to try to make a better life for herself.”