What's New

Professor Pam Karlan to serve as Special Counsel to Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center

The Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center is very pleased to announce that Professor Pam Karlan, one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional law experts, will serve as Special Counsel to the organization.

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Rivera Plaintiffs

Settlement Reached in Landmark Civil Rights Case

Twenty-three immigrant women workers who challenged English proficiency tests announced a settlement in their landmark federal civil rights case against a major multinational corporation.  In the course of two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court, Rivera v. Nibco, Inc. created important national legal precedents and strengthened the rights of immigrant workers to bring claims of workplace abuse against their employers.

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Women's Rights Groups Ask Department of Education for a Title IX Review of Penn State

Following the recent allegations of sexual abuse at Penn State University, ten of the nation’s leading civil rights and women’s rights advocacy organizations have formally asked the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to undertake a Title IX compliance review of how the university handles allegations of sexual harassment, especially against athletes. The letter was signed by the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center along with representatives of Women’s Law Project, California Women’s Law Center, Legal Voice, Equal Rights Advocates, Equity Legal, National Women’s Law Center, Women’s Sports Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, and Southwest Women’s Law Center. See the full request letter

Free Workers’ Compensation Clinic in English and Spanish

On January 31, the Workers’ Rights Disability Law Clinic will host a free Workers’ Compensation clinic. Volunteer Workers’ Comp attorneys from Worksafe will provide free counseling on Workers’ Comp issues. Spanish-speaking attorneys will be available.

Workers’ Compensation clinic
Tuesday, January 31; appointments beginning at 6:30 pm
Ed Roberts Campus adjacent to the Asby BART Station
3075 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703

The clinic is by appointment only; please call 415-864-8848.

NLRB rules that employees are entitled to bring employment-related claims as class or collective actions, in court or arbitration proceedings

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—the federal decision-making body that oversees relations between labor unions and private employers—recently declared that employees must be allowed to pursue their workplace grievances through collective or class-wide actions, whether it be through litigation or arbitration.

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Federal Judge Denies Government Motion to Dismiss in Defense of Marriage Act Case

Today, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California rejected the federal government’s request to dismiss the constitutional claims of gay and lesbian state workers who, together with their registered domestic partners, are excluded from equal access to California’s Long-Term Care Program.

Judge Claudia Wilken issued the ruling in Dragovich v. CalPERS, a class action lawsuit challenging federal and state laws including the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which regulate state-sponsored long-term care plans. These laws permit employees and an array of family members to join such plans, including opposite-sex spouses, but exclude the spouses and registered domestic partners of gay and lesbian workers.

“Registering as domestic partners is the only legal status currently available to gay and lesbian couples in California,” said Claudia Center of Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center. “These couples have agreed to take on all of the obligations of marriage, and are entitled to fair and equal treatment from the federal government.”

Read the news release

Girls playing soccer

February 1: National Girls and Women in Sports Day

February 1, 2012, marks the 26th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day! The team staffing Fair Play for Girls in Sports, a project of Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center, joins coaches, parents, park and recreation departments, school districts, and athletic leagues across the country in celebrating the many positive benefits that girls and women gain from playing sports.

This year’s national Girls and Women in Sports Day also marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX—the law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational and school sports programs receiving federal funding. Over the past 40 years, Title IX has enabled millions of young girls to play sports on a level playing field. But there is more work to be done. Despite the fact that Title IX has been operative for four decades, girls today receive 1.3 million fewer opportunities to participate in athletics than do boys.

Similarly, girls have been granted the right under California law (AB2404) to equality in athletic opportunities in programs sponsored by their local Parks and Recreation departments. But the promise of this law too has not been realized.

Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center launched Fair Play for Girls in Sports to ensure that girls in grades K–12 have the full benefit of these two laws. If you think girls who are enrolled in your local high school or who participate in your local Parks and Recreation department sports programs are not being given an equal opportunity to play and you would like additional information about these laws, you can contact us at 877.593.0074.

To learn about the work we are doing on behalf of girls in low-income communities visit our Fair Play for Girls in Sports page. You can also visit us on Facebook, for all of the latest news on girls in sports.

Home Depot Agrees to Enhance Sign Language Interpreters for California Workers

Groundbreaking Settlement A Model for Providing Equal Opportunity

A major settlement has been reached between Home Depot and deaf and hard of hearing workers in California who claimed they were discriminated against on the basis of their disability. Final approval of the class action settlement was entered by United States District Court Judge Lucy Koh on February 2, 2012.

As part of the settlement, Home Depot will provide sign language interpreters at key workplace events such as interviews, trainings, performance review meetings, disciplinary meetings, safety meetings and mandatory store-wide meetings. Home Depot has also agreed to ensure that visual alarms for emergencies are in place at retail stores where class members are employed and to provide technology devices to improve communication with deaf and hard of hearing associates. Home Depot has further agreed to ensure that class members are eligible for forklift training and certification on an equal basis as their non-disabled counterparts, provided minimum safety requirements may be maintained.

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Girls playing soccer

High School Girl Athletes Win Major Title IX Class Action Case in U.S. District Court Against Sweetwater Union School District

In a potentially precedent-setting decision, Judge James M. Lorenz of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on Thursday ruled in favor of a group of female athletes in a Title IX class action lawsuit against the Sweetwater Union High School District. The judge determined the school district unfairly favored boys’ sports over girls’ sports at Castle Park High School (CPHS) by giving the boys better athletic facilities, resources and opportunities. The parties are to submit the proposed compliance plan within 45 days of the filing of this order.

The case, Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School, et al., was filed in 2007 by the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center, California Women’s Law Center, and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. The student plaintiffs sued for injunctive relief under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, which bars sex discrimination in education, including athletic programs.

Duran v. U.S. Bank: the California Court of Appeals Decision Is Not the Death Knell of Overtime Class Actions

Steven G. Zieff

Legal Aid Board Member Steven Zieff describes the ramifications of the recent Duran decision, including its potential impact on the rights of low-income workers.

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