In order to advance racial justice, we must also fight for economic justice. Core to our mission is the commitment to increasing economic opportunities for underserved communities. Our direct services programs and impact projects are focused on overcoming barriers to advancement and building the economic power of communities of color and immigrant communities.
According to recent census data, in San Francisco and Oakland more than 10% of all families live in poverty. Yet, 22% of those living below the poverty line are immigrants, 20% are African-American, 21% are Asian American, and 28% are Latino. We are directly responding to this longstanding economic inequality through money management workshops, which address issues from banking to credit issues, and through our Legal Services for Entrepreneurs program, where we provide free business legal advice and services to low-income clients who are starting or expanding their own businesses, and to businesses that invest directly in economically distressed neighborhoods.
Lawyers' Committee champions economic justice through advocacy and impact litigation that covers a wide spectrum of work, including the areas of employment, public contracting, and micro-enterprise development. Among the issues we have addressed are:
- Money Management Workshop: Low-income individuals are frequently targeted by predatory lenders and often spend more on financial goods and services than other individuals. Lawyers' Committee is working to combat this dilemma by leading workshops at community-based organizations to empower individuals to gain financial control of their lives.
We provide workshops on a range of financial issues, particularly on credit scores, and why to and how to bank.
If your organization or community is interested in our workshops, please contact Miya Saika Chen at Mchen@lccr.com
- Day Laborer Rights: Lawyers’ Committee has been active in the fight to ensure the rights of day laborers to seek work. In a recent victory in February 2012, the United States Supreme Court denied the City of Redondo Beach's request to review the Ninth Circuit decision which found the City's ordinance prohibiting solicitation of employment, business, or contributions on city streets and sidewalks unconstitutional. The 2004 case of Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach originated after undercover police officers posed as employers, hiring day laborers and then arresting them for soliciting work. The district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals both ruled in favor of the day laborers, siding with the argument that their right to seek work is protected under the right to free speech. The Supreme Court's decision to not hear the case has effectively ended any further challenges to this ruling. The precedent-setting case was litigated by the Lawyers’ Committee and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
- Domestic Worker Rights:We have successfully represented and litigated a number of landmark cases to uphold the rights of domestic workers. In partnership with La Raza Centro Legal and pro bono attorneys at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, we recently successfully obtained an award of $600,000 on behalf of a Peruvian domestic worker who was trafficked and enslaved by a family in Walnut Creek. The landmark judgment is one of the largest on record for a trafficking case, and established an important precedent of domestic worker rights and trafficking victims’ services.
- Equal Opportunity in Contracting: Lawyers' Committee is a leader in the fight to ensure that minority and women-owned businesses have equal opportunity to compete for public contracts. Most recently, we successfully represented small minority business owners in pursuing a civil rights complaint to ensure that California's high speed rail contracting - the largest public works project in the nation - is conducted in a manner that ensures fair and equitable contracting opportunities for all.
We also represent a coalition of minority business contractors in a federal court case involving Caltrans' Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, seeking to preserve the program's efforts to ensure equitable contracting for small businesses. If you are minority business owner concerned about contracting equity, please contact Oren Sellstrom at email@example.com. Please note that we generally do not handle individual cases, but focus instead on class actions or other matters seeking systemic reform.