What's New

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

Disability Program Assisting Class of Prospective Lawyers

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.

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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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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.

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