What's New

Members of Congress and Advocates Announce Federal Legislation Protecting Pregnant Workers from Discrimination

May 8, 2012—Today Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and 63 cosponsors, including Jackie Speier, Susan Davis, and Anna Eshoo of California, will introduce the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).  This legislation would require employers to provide reasonable job modifications that would allow pregnant women to continue working and supporting their families.

“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 Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. "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."

The proposed legislation was announced at a news conference in Washington, D.C., featuring Members of Congress and representatives from supporting organizations, including Legal Aid Staff Attorney Rachael Langston.

The full news release from the Members of Congress.

The Letter of Support, signed by more than 100 organizations across the country.

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Legal Aid Honored by UC Hastings for Student Training

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.

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Federal Judge in Gay and Lesbian State Employee Case Rules in Favor of Plaintiffs and Issues an Injunction

On Thursday, May 24, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted judgment in favor 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.  Judge Wilken found that the statutory preclusion of gay and lesbian spouses and partners violated the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. 

“Lesbian and gay couples are entitled to fair and equal treatment from the federal government,” said Elizabeth Kristen of Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center. “Judge Wilken’s ruling ensures that both same-sex spouses and registered domestic partners will be treated fairly with respect to the CalPERS long term care insurance program.”

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Workers' Compensation Clinic

On June 12, the Workers’ Rights Disability Law Clinic will host a free Workers’ Compensation clinic. Volunteer Workers’ Comp attorneys from Worksafe will provide counseling on Workers’ Comp issues. Spanish-speaking attorneys will be available.

Workers’ Compensation clinic
Tuesday, June 12; appointments beginning at 6:30 pm
Ed Roberts Campus adjacent to the Ashby BART Station
3075 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703

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

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Welcome Summer Law Clerks

Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center is pleased to have the following law clerks join and work with us for the summer:

Marisa Díaz (Stanford Law School), Sean Murphy (University of New Mexico School of Law), Marta Novoa (UC Davis School of Law), Viviana Santiago (UC Berkeley School of Law), Esmeralda Santos (UC Hastings College of the Law), Joshua Tarrant-Windt (Columbia Law School), Malinda Tuazon (UC Hastings College of the Law), Gerardo Vicuña (UC Berkeley School of Law), Arthur Welton (UC Hastings College of the Law), and Katherine Zhao (Stanford Law School).

Assemblymembers Approve AB 2039

On May 30, 2012, the California Assembly passed AB 2039 (Swanson), a bill that would allow workers to take job-protected time off to care for seriously ill siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, adult children, and parents-in-law.  Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center is the organizational sponsor of AB 2039 and has long been at the forefront of expanding the rights of workers with family caregiving responsibilities.  Through its Work & Family helpline, Legal Aid receives numerous calls from individuals who need leave from work to care for a family member not covered under existing law. 

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Charlotte Noss honored by the California Domestic Workers Coalition

The California Domestic Workers Coalition recognized LAS-ELC attorney Charlotte Noss for her dedication to the fight for social justice for domestic workers.  The award honors her contributions and hard work to support the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights campaign.Read more

Elizabeth Kristen Selected as 2012 Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard

Elizabeth Kristen, Director of Legal Aid’s Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program, has been selected as a 2012 Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow.  As a Wasserstein Fellow, Elizabeth will spend two days in residence at Harvard Law School meeting with and mentoring Harvard law students who are considering a career in public interest law.Read more

On behalf of three individuals, the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center is seeking permission to join a federal court case alleging that the Law School Admissions Council Discriminates against prospective lawyers with disabilities. According to the complaint, the LSAC excludes and discriminates against test-takers with disabilities by imposing onerous and unnecessary documentation requirements upon those needing accommodations, by operating arbitrary and unpredictable procedures for evaluating requests, and by refusing in many instances to make any testing modifications at all.

Read the news release

New Data Regarding Workers' Access to and Use of Leave

On August 16, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data from the 2011 American Time Use Survey. Among the findings were that:

  • 4 in 10 workers lack access to paid leave; and
  • Low-wage workers, Latino workers, those with poorer health, and those whose jobs place them in direct contact with the public (such as retail and hospitality, including food service) are less likely to have access to leave and more likely to lose wages when they take leave.
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