Innovation continues as Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center celebrates 100th anniversary

After a century of service to low-income people in San Francisco and statewide, Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center is celebrating — and raising funds to help expand our Workers’ Rights Clinic.

Actor and social justice activist George Takei will be on hand to receive LAS-ELC’s public service award at the event Thursday at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. Introducing Takei will be Dale Minami, best known for his leadership of litigation on behalf of Fred Korematsu challenging the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. And Elizabeth Cabraser, leader most recently of the fraud case against VW that resulted in a $15 billion settlement, will toast the organization’s first 100 years and offer a look ahead.

“A centennial is a remarkable milestone for any institution,” says Joan Graff, president of LAS-ELC. “We began as the first legal aid society in the West and one of very few anywhere in the U.S. Moving through the ensuing decades along with the country as a whole, we have been providing services and programs always at or ahead of their time.”

Just this year, LAS-ELC lawyers helped draft the ordinance that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed in April requiring most employers here to ensure their workers get six weeks of fully paid, job-protected parental leave.

Graff also singled out successes in establishing HIV/AIDS as a disability under state and federal law in the 1980s; the consent decree mandating racial and gender equity in the San Francisco Fire Department; numerous significant cases on behalf of undocumented immigrant workers; and the case of Ollier v. Sweetwater applying Title IX in K-12 schools, among many others. The organization also serves thousands of people directly, and it offers extensive practical information online.

About 850 members of California’s vibrant legal and social justice communities will attend the gala, including state and federal judges, regional and state political leaders, and others. The honorary committee for the event includes prominent local and statewide leaders.

Event details:

  • What: LAS-ELC Centennial Gala, with remarks from George Takei
  • When: 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner and program (concluding with live auction and appeal)
  • Where: Hyatt Regency San Francisco, 5 Embarcadero
  • Tickets: A few remain (starting at $125 for nonprofit staffers)
  • Press: Members of the media are invited. Please call ahead with name and affiliation. 
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