Job Announcement: Staff Attorney, Fair Work Center Legal Clinic
Fair Work Center Program Description
The Fair Work Center empowers workers to achieve fair employment. We are a hub for workers to understand and exercise their legal rights, improve working conditions and connect with community resources. We envision a society in which workers are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of class, gender, or race. We will work to ensure that workers are informed of their rights under the law and that employers are held accountable to labor standards.
The Fair Work Center Legal Clinic, operated in partnership with Seattle University and the University of Washington schools of law advises and represents workers in accessing their rights under Seattle’s labor ordinances as well as under state and federal law. The Clinic meets community members where they are, with representation taking place in the community rather than waiting for workers to come to us.
The Fair Work Center seeks a full‐time Staff Attorney to join our Legal Clinic. The Staff Attorney will:
- Represent workers in challenging workplace violations;
- Provide legal support to the Intake Program;
- Provide legal support to the Community Clinic Program;
- Participate in outreach and education events, providing intake, brief advice or other support as needed.
- Provide technical support to Fair Work Center’s community partners.
- Monitor and participate in rulemaking and other policy advocacy relating to minimum standards legislation at the local, state, and national level.
The ideal candidate will have a demonstrated commitment to economic, racial and social justice, be comfortable in a start-up atmosphere, be mission driven, a quick-learner, flexible and have deep respect for individual workers. Specifically, the successful candidate will possess the following:
- Demonstrated commitment to economic, racial and social justice;
- A law degree from an accredited law school;
- Admission to the bar in Washington, or ability and willingness to obtain admission in Washington as soon as possible;
- At least three years of legal experience in labor and employment law.
- Excellent legal analysis and writing skills;
- Experience working with immigrant and refugees and communities of color; and
- Strong interpersonal, negotiation, and communication skills.
- Proficiency in Spanish is strongly preferred.
Compensation. The salary range is $50,000 – $70,000 per year, depending on experience, along with generous health, retirement and leave benefits.
Application: Please send your letter of interest, resume, three references, and legal writing sample to: Elizabeth Ford, Legal Director, Fair Work Center, Liz@fairworkcenter.org or by U.S. mail at 5308 Martin Luther King Way, South, Seattle, Washington 98118.
We will accept applications submitted by close of business on March 15, 2017. But please try to get your application as soon as possible.
If you need disability, language or other accommodation in the application process, please contact Hana Kawai at Hana@fairworkcenter.org.
The Fair Work Center is committed to a policy of pluralism and equal opportunity in an environment free of barriers and discriminatory practices for its client communities, Board and staff. Pluralism refers to the active promotion of mutual respect, acceptance, teamwork and productivity among people who are diverse in work background, experience, education, race, color, national origin, sex, age, religious preference, marital status, sexual orientation, sensory, mental and physical abilities, veteran status, or any other perceived differences. The resulting diversity is both a source of program strength and a matter of fundamental human fairness.
This Labor Day, Fair Work Center is proud to announce the opening of its new civil legal aid clinic, the Fair Work Legal Clinic. The clinic will offer low-wage workers free intake and referral services, legal advice at its monthly community clinics, and legal representation. The clinic is operated in partnership with the Seattle University and University of Washington Schools of Law, and will be the first clinic associated with the King County Bar Association’s Neighborhood Legal Clinic program that focuses exclusively on workplace issues.
“Low-wage workers face serious barriers to justice when they raise workplace issues,” said Nicole Vallestero Keenan, Executive Director. “Fair Work Center is already supporting workers to address these challenges, but this new clinic means workers now have a place to turn to when they need legal aid, whether that is in filing a claim with a government enforcement agency or representing them in a court case against their employer.”
“Fair Work Center helped me recover nearly $5,000 in wages my employer owed me,” said Anna, a janitorial worker. “My daughter and I were about to be evicted, but thanks to the support of Fair Work Center, I was able to get the wages I was owed and stay in my apartment.”
According to the 2015 Washington State Civil Legal Needs Study Update, one-in-three low-income people (33.6%) experience workplace legal issues. Yet, it is not an area in which workers are seeking or getting legal help.
“I am thrilled to open this new legal clinic, which is so desperately needed and will help bridge a gap in the civil legal aid available to low-wage workers,” said Elizabeth Ford, Legal Director at Fair Work Center. “We will be training the next generation of attorneys who will shape employment law for decades to come.”
Ford, an experienced labor and employment lawyer, is also faculty at Seattle University School of Law, where she will teach a Workers’ Rights Clinical Course based at the Fair Work Center. The course will be offered to both Seattle University (beginning this fall) and University of Washington (beginning in 2017) law students. Students will get hands-on experience in employment law by staffing the community clinics, holding regular office hours for workers seeking legal information, and representing workers in wage claims.
“We are absolutely thrilled that this clinic is becoming a reality and offered here at Seattle University,” said Annette Clark, Dean and Professor of Law at Seattle University School of Law. “It is a perfect fit with our mission of educating powerful advocates for justice.”
“We are thrilled to partner with the Fair Work Center and Seattle University to address the pressing legal needs of the low-wage worker community,” said Christine Cimini, Associate Dean for Experiential Education and Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law. “In addition to helping low-wage workers, we are excited to provide this real-life valuable educational opportunity to law students.”
In addition to opening the new legal clinic, the Fair Work Center is one of three sites nationally to test WorkerReport, a new mobile app that allows anyone to easily report a workplace violation. Once the violation is reported, the Fair Work Legal Clinic will investigate and provide assistance to the worker involved. WorkerReport is now available for download on Apple and Android devices.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, a cornerstone of Seattle’s Pike Place Market, claims (with good reason) that its penne mac and cheese is the finest in America. Dining at Beecher’s is a must.
Working there may be less advisable. Deric Cole, an Army vet, worked at Beecher’s for seven months, beginning in 2014. He says that turnover was so high that when he quit, he was a senior employee. Shifts varied from day to day, he adds, sometimes starting at 3 a.m. and occasionally lasting up to 15 hours. Cole says that while Beecher’s technically offered overtime, those who managed to accrue it were punished, and employees were even asked to work off the clock. Cole also alleges that Beecher’s ignored Seattle’s 2012 paid sick leave ordinance and refused to grant any paid time off for illness.
Fed up, Cole eventually brought these complaints to a new city agency designed to help in cases like his: the Office of Labor Standards (OLS), one of the first of its kind in the United States.
Over the past five years, Seattle has implemented sweeping labor laws, instituting paid sick leave, discouraging discrimination against those with prison records, incrementally raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2017 and strengthening wage-theft protections.
But these new laws can’t enforce themselves. One year after OLS’s creation, people like Cole will be among the first to test Seattle’s experiment. Although San Francisco originated the model over a decade ago, it has been slow to catch on. Seattle’s new endeavor could push other cities to adopt enforcement mechanisms for local labor laws.
Read more at inthesetimes.com
Fair Work Center is the largest recipient of City of Seattle’s Labor Standards Enforcement Grant
With new wage laws now in effect in Seattle, many workers are still struggling to see their rights achieved under the law. Since Seattle’s progressive movement fought for and won a $15 minimum wage, our community is now at the forefront of seeking innovative public/private/community partnerships to conduct outreach, enforcement and education on our new labor laws.
Just this morning, the City of Seattle announced the recipients of the $1 million Community Fund to support outreach, education and enforcement of Seattle’s Labor Standards. As the convener of the Fair Work Collaborative, a partnership of eight community-based partners, Fair Work Center is thrilled to be the largest recipient of the fund.
The Fair Work Center empowers workers to achieve fair employment. We are a hub for workers to understand and exercise their legal rights, improve working conditions and connect with community resources.
Since we launched in June, we have brought together a talented board and staff with over 100 years of combined experience in labor standards enforcement, outreach and community engagement. We launched a collaborative to spread the word about worker’s rights, supported dozens of workers whose rights have been violated at work, and developed comprehensive “Know Your Rights” trainings for workers and the community at large.
Workers with questions about the phase-in of $15/hour minimum wage, securing paid sick leave, or other issues can connect with Fair Work Center online at fairworkcenter.org; through our helpline at 1-844-485-1195, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The center provides services in Vietnamese, Spanish, Somali and English. The Fair Work Center offices are located at 5308 Martin Luther King Jr Way South.
What makes Seattle different than other cities? We have laws guaranteeing that employees have access to paid sick leave, wage theft protections, one of the highest minimum wages in the country, and more.
In the past three years, Seattle has enacted four new citywide laws, and it’s not just the $15 minimum wage. There’s the Job Assistance ordinance, which limits how employers can use criminal records; the Wage Theft ordinance, which offers protections when employers illegally withhold pay; and the Paid Sick and Safe Time ordinance, which ensures that employees accrue paid time off for illness.
But understanding their ins and outs, or even recognizing when an employer is violating them, can be tricky. To help workers navigate these new laws, local policy experts and community organizers created a new nonprofit called the Fair Work Center.
Following the recent raising of the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 an hour, many employees in the Emerald City may be a little confused about their rights. The Fair Work Center, a non-profit, has launched and will partner with a law clinic at the University of Washington. “Seattle is fortunate to have a suite of newly adopted labor laws, including one of the highest minimum wages in the country,” said Fair Work Center’s Director Nicole Vallestero Keenan. The center will help workers make sense of their rights under city laws about paid sick leave, wage theft protections and other issues as well as the minimum wage.
SEATTLE—With new wage laws now in effect in Seattle, the nonprofit Fair Work Center has launched to help workers better understand their rights and the city’s labor standards.
“Seattle is fortunate to have a suite of newly adopted labor laws, including one of the highest minimum wages in the country,” said Director Nicole Vallestero Keenan. “Fair Work Center has been established to help workers make sense of their rights to paid sick leave, wage theft protections, minimum wage and more.”
Read more at the Eastside Business Journal.