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.Read more
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, 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
- 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.
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, 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.
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
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!
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.”