What's New

ADA Access Work Completed at San Francisco Unified School District

In a story recently reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has completed the ADA access work required by a class action lawsuit brought in 1999 by school children with mobility and visual disabilities. 

The comprehensive settlement reached in the case in 2004 mandated 100 fully accessible SFUSD schools, regularly scheduled maintenance for elevators and other access features, new policies for student access to programs, and annual ADA trainings for principals, teachers, and school bus drivers, all under court supervision. 

The case was litigated by the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC), Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky LLP, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. 

Stated Jinny Kim, Senior Staff Attorney with the LAS-ELC:  “The conditions under which children with disabilities had been attending school were simply appalling.  This case – which secured the most far-reaching settlement of its kind – vindicated the fundamental rights of children with disabilities to participate in an accessible, meaningful public education.”

Elizabeth Kristen In Studio

Elizabeth Kristen Discusses Title IX on KALW's "City Visions."

Elizabeth Kristen, Director of Legal Aid’s Fair Play for Girls in Sports, was a guest on KALW’s “City Visions” Radio program on Monday, August 27, 2012.  The show’s topic was “Title IX:  Creating Champions and Controversy.”  During the show, Ms. Kristen explained that since the passage of Title IX 40 years ago, there has been tremendous progress for women and girls in sport.  However, she also pointed out many schools are still far from equity.  “The promise of Title IX is especially lacking when it comes to low-income girls and girls of color” she stated.

New Videos Provide Employment Law Information in American Sign Language (ASL)

Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center is proud to announce the launch of six innovative “know your rights” videos in American Sign Language (ASL) with English captioning. The informational videos, the first of their kind in the nation, provide critical legal information in a format accessible to deaf and hard of hearing workers.  

The videos feature deaf interpreters explaining concepts relevant to workers who are deaf or hard of hearing, including: discrimination, reasonable accommodation, unemployment insurance, temporary disability benefits, and leaves of absence.  Two of the videos are geared specifically toward survivors of domestic violence, sexual harassment, and stalking.

These videos are the first installation in what we hope will be an ongoing series.  LAS–ELC would like to extend our thanks to the production team from Sweetwater Media, a media company in San Francisco, and to Verizon for partially funding the videos.Watch the videos

Gerardo Vicuña awarded Ochoa Legal Group Scholarship

Legal Aid intern Gerardo Vicuña has been selected as a 2012 recipient of the Ochoa Legal Group Workers’ Rights Scholarship.  The scholarship is awarded to law students for their exemplary work, dedication and legal advocacy on behalf of working people.  Originally from Mexico, Gerardo grew up in Orosi (Central Valley) California before attending UC Berkeley School of Law, where he is now a third-year law student.  Gerardo was a counselor at Legal Aid’s East Bay Workers’ Rights Clinic in 2010-11 and then interned with Legal Aid’s Wage and Hour Enforcement and Litigation Program in 2012.  Congratulations, Gerardo!

Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center endorses Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

On September 19, United States Senators Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will introduce the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) in the Senate.  This bill would require employers to provide reasonable job modifications that would allow pregnant women to continue working and supporting their families.  These adjustments, such as avoiding heavy lifting or sitting on a chair instead of standing at a cash register all day, are the same sorts of accommodations that are already required for people with disabilities. 

The PWFA was introduced in the House of Representatives in May of this year, and already has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House and the support of 119 civil rights and women's advocacy organizations, unions, and business associations. 

“Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center is pleased to endorse the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act" said Sharon Terman, Senior Staff Attorney and Director of the Work and Family Project at LAS–ELC. "Seventy-five percent of women in the workforce will become pregnant while employed. Yet far too many women are forced out of their jobs when they need them most – when they are expecting a new child. California enacted reasonable accommodations for pregnant women in 1999, and the law has been used countless times to enable women to keep their jobs and support their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a common-sense public policy. No woman should have to choose between her health and her job.” 

California business owner Sam Mogannam, president and founder of the Bi-Rite Family of businesses, endorses the PWFA, noting that Bi-Rite routinely provides accommodations to pregnant employees including chefs and cashiers.  He states, “California’s pregnancy accommodation law has posed no issues for us in the years that it has been enacted.”

Workers' Rights Clinic Opened in Orange County

The Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center has added Orange County to the list of its Workers’ Rights Clinic sites. The Orange County Workers’ Rights Clinic is a collaboration of Legal Aid, the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) and UC Irvine School of Law.  The Orange County Clinic is housed at LASOC and is staffed by students from UC Irvine School of Law, attorneys from Legal Aid, and volunteer attorneys from the local bar.  Initially operating every other Tuesday during the law semester, the Clinic will provide free legal services to low-wage workers, including service industry workers, in Orange County who face a range of workplace problems including unpaid wages and overtime, health and safety violations and discrimination.

EEOC Publishes Factsheet for Survivors of Domestic Violence

This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a new fact sheet describing the ways in which federal anti-discrimination laws protect survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking at work.  The EEOC district offices are also now conducting trainings to community groups on this important topic.  To request a training, contact an EEOC outreach coordinator.

Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center’s Project SURVIVE helps survivors of abuse preserve their jobs while they take time off to seek court relief and services, obtain the accommodations they need, and fight discrimination so they can remain economically independent and safe.  

“We are thrilled that the EEOC is taking steps to inform and protect survivors of violence” said Julia Parish, project attorney.  “Vulnerable workers should not have to choose between safety for themselves and their children and maintaining their jobs.”Read more

Project Attorney Charlotte Noss Appointed to San Francisco Wage Theft Task Force

LAS-ELC Project Attorney Charlotte Noss has been appointed to serve on this first-ever San Francisco Wage Theft Task Force.   This new policy making body was formed by the Board of Supervisors to efficiently organize city resources in the fight against wage theft. 

Wage Theft occurs when employers fail to pay workers the wages they are due.  These violations of wage and hour laws are rampant across the country, even in San Francisco.  This city has the highest minimum wage in the country and its own labor enforcement agency, yet workers in San Francisco still experience wage theft in extremely high numbers.

The Task Force is the next step in a very successful Campaign to End Wage Theft in San Francisco.  The Campaign, organized by the SF Progressive Workers Alliance (PWA), achieved the unanimous passage of the Wage Theft Ordinance in 2011 to enhance the city’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) efforts to combat wage theft. Read more

LAS-ELC Welcomes New Staff in Language Rights, Gender Equity, and Communications

The Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center is very pleased to welcome three new staff members: Marsha Chien, Skadden Fellow in the National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program; Kim Turner, the John and Terry Levin Fellow for the Fair Play for Girls in Sports Project; and Sara Feldman, Communications Manager.

We are delighted that Marsha, Kim, and Sara have chosen to bring their talents, skills and passion for justice to the LAS–ELC in service of the growing numbers of low wage clients in urgent need of assistance.Read more

Legal Aid Staff Give Keynotes at Title IX Conference

The Fair Play for Girls in Sports team, Elizabeth Kristen, Tamika Butler (former Levin Fellow), and Kim Turner (current Levin Fellow), recently attended the Title IX at 40 conference hosted by the Western Society for Physical Education of College Women in Pacific Grove, California. Over ninety years old, the Western Society is comprised of educators, researchers, and practitioners from eleven states and Canada and is devoted to enhancing women’s pursuits in athletics and human movement in higher education. Elizabeth and Tamika delivered keynote presentations on Title IX, AB 2404, and the work of Fair Play to ensure K-12 girls of color in low income communities equally reap the benefits of Title IX. For more information about Fair Play for Girls in Sports click here.