January is Trafficking Awareness Month, a good time to think about how to identify victims of this terrible human rights violation and how best to advocate for them. According to the International Labor Organization, over three-quarters of the people trafficked across the globe are estimated to be involved in forced labor. They are extracting, harvesting, or producing different goods in countries worldwide. Even here in the U.S., these individuals toil in the shadows without freedom or access to justice.Read more
In order to promote the health, well-being, education, and employment opportunities for low-income girls in grades K–12, the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center has established a new project: Fair Play for Girls in Sports.
Helping to make this possible is a generous grant from John and Terry Levin and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of California. This gift is to fund a two-year Fellowship named after John and Terry Levin. We are pleased to announce that Tamika Butler has been selected as the Fellow.Read more
This past Sunday, November 18th, Senior Staff Attorney and Disability Rights Program Director Claudia Center debated libertarian Cato Institute's Walter Olson on the value of the Americans with Disabilities Act. During the debate, entitled "Is the Americans with Disabilities Act a Net Positive for the Workplace and for Society?", Claudia explained that the ADA provides full citizenship to people with disabilities and gives them some important tools to navigate an array of social and physical spaces. Read more
Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center is proud to celebrate Transgender Awareness week. We join LGBT centers, nonprofit organizations, and individuals across the country in calling attention to key issues affecting the transgender community. Read more
The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices of the U.S. Department of Justice—Civil Rights Division is accepting comments as it prepares to develop guidelines on the topic of employer self-audits of I-9 forms. Comments can be submitted by email to: Osc.Engagement@usdoj.gov, and must be received by Friday, November 9, 2012.
The OSC is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324b, which prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee that is based on an individual’s national origin or citizenship status. The statute also prohibits unfair documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification process (I-9 verification process) on the basis of citizenship status or national origin, and retaliation or intimidation on these grounds.Read more
The Civil Justice Clinic at UC Hastings College of Law has recognized Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center with its Community Partner Award for “Outstanding Commitment to Workers’ Rights and the Practical Training of Law Students.”
Legal Aid has had a longstanding relationship with Hastings and the law school is a key partner in Legal Aid’s Workers’ Rights Clinic and Unemployment and Wage Claims Project. At the Clinic and Claims Project, Hastings students are trained to provide legal information to low-wage workers with work-related legal issues and represent clients at hearings before the Labor Commissioner and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
“Having Hastings as a partner has been critical to the success of the Clinic and Claims Project,” said Carole Vigne, Director of the Claims Project at Legal Aid. “The students’ talent and commitment allow us to serve as many individuals as we do. Without the students and the support of Hastings’ leadership and the Civil Justice Clinic, we would not be able to advise hundreds of workers and represent scores of clients each year.”
The award was presented to Carole Vigne on May 11, 2012.
On April 18, the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center (Legal Aid) added Fresno to the list of its Workers’ Rights Clinic sites. The Fresno Workers’ Rights Clinic is a collaboration of Legal Aid, Central California Legal Services (CCLS), the Mexican Consulate, and the Fresno-based law firm of Lang, Richert & Patch.
The Fresno Clinic is housed at CCLS and is staffed by attorneys from Legal Aid, CCLS and members of the local bar, as well as paralegals and law students. Initially operating once per month, the Clinic will provide free legal services to low-wage workers, including farm workers, in the Central Valley who face a range of workplace problems including unpaid wages and overtime, health and safety violations and discrimination.
As more working mothers are—and remain—in the workforce, the issues of paid leave and equal pay for women have become more and more prominent. Today, three quarters of women entering the workforce will become pregnant at least once while employed, and a large proportion of them will remain in the workforce following childbirth.
However, the United States is one of the only developed nations that does not have a policy that mandates that paid leave be available when a child gets sick and a parent has to miss work to care for them. Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center has a history of supporting legislation to address these issues as well as providing direct services to women facing discrimination in the workplace or needing assistance to secure the leave to which they are entitled.Read more
Central California Legal Services (CCLS), Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center, and Lang, Richert & Patch, with support from the Mexican Consulate in Fresno, Team Up to Provide Free Legal Services in Central Valley.
The CCLS/Legal Aid Workers’ Rights Clinic devoted to the employment issues of low-wage workers will open its doors at 2115 Kern Street, Suite 1, in downtown Fresno on April 18. It will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. People in need of assistance may either call 559-570-1200 to make an appointment or come to the office during those hours.
Founded by Central California Legal Services (CCLS), Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center (Legal Aid), with the support of the local law firm of Lang, Richert & Patch, and the Consulate of Mexico in Fresno, the Clinic,—the first of this collaborative in the Central Valley—will provide free legal assistance to low-wage workers who are subjected to illegal practices on the job.Read the news release
Decision in Brinker v. Superior Court: Employers May Not Interfere with Workers’ Right to Meal BreaksApril 12, 2012
On April 12, 2012, the California Supreme Court issued its much-awaited decision in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, clarifying an employer’s obligations to provide hourly—or non-exempt—workers meal and rest periods.
On the central question of what it means to provide meal periods, the Brinker decision concluded that “an employer’s obligation is to relieve its employee of all duty, with the employee thereafter at liberty to use the meal period for whatever purpose he or she desires, but the employer need not ensure that no work is done.” The Court reasoned that requiring an employer to police its workers’ breaks would contradict the principle that the employer relinquishes all control during breaks. The Court clarified further than an employer cannot impede breaks by pressuring workers against taking breaks, create incentives to forego breaks, or encourage skipping breaks. In doing so, the Court reaffirmed the long-standing principle that California’s workers are “entitled to uninterrupted half-hour [meal] periods in which they are relieved of any duty or employer control and are free to come and go as they please.”