The staff members of Legal Aid at Work are leaders in their areas of specialization and have won national and statewide awards. Many are bilingual. Our attorneys are regularly named among the nation’s top lawyers, and they advocate tirelessly for individuals and groups of clients — and to strengthen civil and employment rights.
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Joan Messing Graff
Joan Graff (she/her) has been President of Legal Aid at Work since 1981. She began her legal career working in the General Counsel’s office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and she was a founding staff member of Equal Rights Advocates in San Francisco.
Joan worked as an attorney with Equal Rights Advocates for nearly a decade. The organization was one of the first nonprofit legal organizations in the country dedicated to securing equality for women and it became one of the leading proponents for women’s rights nationally. She has served on a number of boards and advisory committees and, among other honors, received the Loren Miller Legal Services Award from the State Bar of California.
Joan received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1967 and her B.S. from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1964. She is a member of the bars of California and the District of Columbia.
Reach Joan at [email protected] or 415-864-8848.
Swaaliha is a Legal Fellow with the Wage Protection Program where she assists with wage claims and represents clients before the California Labor Commissioner. Swaaliha is committed to leveraging her legal education and skills to help marginalized communities.
Swaaliha received her B.A from San Francisco State University, where she majored in World History and minored in Women and Gender Studies. Swaaliha received her J.D from UC Hastings, where she graduated with a social justice concentration. During her time at UC Hastings, Swaaliha interned at OneJustice, and Equal Rights Advocates. Additionally, Swaaliha was a Peggy Browning Fellow with the union-side labor law Neyhart, Anderson, Flynn & Grosboll. Outside of Internships, Swaaliha spent much of her time in the UC Hastings Community Justice Clinic. She was also a student director for Homeless Legal Services and the Acquisitions Editor for the UC Hastings Women’s Law Journal.
Swaaliha's fellowship is funded through the generous support of Legal Services Funders Network.
Alexis es miembro de nuestro Programa de Derechos de Personas con Discapacidades. Antes de integrarse a Legal Aid at Work, ella fue abogada del Centro de Recursos Legales para el Cáncer para el Centro de Derechos Legales para Personas con Discapacidades (Disability Rights Legal Center’s Cancer Legal Resource Center) en Los Ángeles, donde ella ayudó a las personas a lidiar con problemas legales relacionados con el cáncer.
Alexis clerked for Judges Robert L. Hess and Barbara M. Meiers of Los Angeles Superior Court and Judge Gilbert M. Román of the Colorado Court of Appeals. She is a founding member of the National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities.
Alexis received her J.D. in 2011 from the UC Davis School of Law and her B.S. with honors in 2007 from Colorado State University. During law school, Alexis was a senior articles editor for the UC Davis Law Review and served on the board of the La Raza Law Student Association.
Como miembro de nuestro equipo de defensa salarial, Mana representa a trabajadores que están lidiando con el incumplimiento en el pago del salario y otras prácticas laborales injustas, incluyendo el tráfico de mano de obra. Mana llegó a Legal Aid at Work desde la organización Corporación de Servicios Legales de Micronesia (Micronesian Legal Services Corporation), donde abogó por los derechos de los trabajadores migrantes y sobrevivientes de la trata de personas en Palau.
She also has represented low-wage and immigrant workers as an associate with Sundeen Salinas & Pyle in Oakland. She was a consulting attorney with the Pars Equality Center in San Francisco. And at the Urban Justice Center, she helped produce a report on racial discrimination in New York City that was presented to the UN Committee on the Eradication of Racial Discrimination.
Mana recently served as president of the Iranian American Bar Association-Nor Cal. She served on a delegation to monitor the elections in Venezuela in October 2012. And she is a commissioner on the California State Bar Access to Justice Commission.
She received her J.D. from New York University School of Law in 2007 and completed a BA in interdisciplinary studies with high honors at UC Berkeley in 2003. During law school, Mana was production editor on NYU's Journal of International Law and Politics, and she spent her summers interning with human rights organizations in Brazil and Costa Rica. Mana also served as a research assistant to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, and she participated in the International Human Rights Clinic’s project addressing the discriminatory effects of counterterrorist policies. She also was a member of the 2007 academic delegation to Cuba.
Alexx Campbell (he/him/él) is a staff attorney in the Wage Protection Program. He represents workers who have experienced wage theft, assisting clients with cases in court and before the California Labor Commissioner. Alexx also serves clients at Wage Claim Clinics at day labor centers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and at the Labor Commissioner offices in San Francisco and Oakland. He educates and trains workers and community members on wage and hour protections and how to combat wage theft. Alexx often serves immigrant and Spanish-speaking workers, and is fluent in Spanish. In an earlier role at Legal Aid at Work, Alexx focused on helping construction workers recover unpaid wages using mechanic’s liens.
Nora Cassidy (she/her/ella) is an attorney in our Gender Equity and LGBT Rights Program and our Fair Play for Girls in Sports Project. She represents and supports workers who have faced harassment based on their sex, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity and advocates for equality for girls in K-12 sports and parks and recreation programs.
Nora received her B.A. in history from Carleton College and her J.D. from UC Irvine School of Law where she was a Public Service Scholar and participated in the Immigrant Rights Clinic. In law school, Nora worked at the ACLU of Southern California, California Rural Legal Assistance, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work, Nora clerked for Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin on the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. Nora speaks Spanish.
DeCarol Davis is the Director of the Community Legal Services program, which provides free legal services to low-wage workers at Workers’ Rights Clinics throughout California. Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work in 2020, Davis, in addition to bartending and managing house at Shotgun Players, Ashby Stage, conducted international legal research with the University of Sydney, Australia on the exploitation of migrant workers. Prior to her research, Davis litigated as a plaintiff-side employment attorney at Bryan Schwartz Law.
Marisa defiende y promueve los derechos de los trabajadores que son inmigrantes o miembros de minorías étnicas. Antes de unirse a Legal Aid at Work, Marisa fue becaria en Equal Rights Advocates, donde participó en litigios, cabildeos en la legislatura, educación en la comunidad y servicios legales directos a nombre de las mujeres que enfrentaban la discriminación con motivo de su género sexual en el lugar de trabajo.
After graduating from Stanford Law School in 2013, Marisa clerked for the Honorable Michael Daly Hawkins on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. During law school Marisa interned with Legal Aid at Work and the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. At Stanford’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, she advocated on behalf of immigrants facing removal from the country.
Marisa began her work with and on behalf of immigrant communities well before law school. She received a Fulbright Grant to research the experiences of Colombian domestic workers in Spain. And she worked for the San Francisco nonprofit La Cocina. Marisa, who is fluent in Spanish, received her undergraduate degree from Pomona College.
Diana Fabian-Gutierrez (she/her/ella) is a Legal Fellow with the Work and Family Program. Diana focuses her work on the rights of pregnant workers, new parents, and caregivers. Diana often serves communities hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic including low wage workers and mono-lingual Spanish Speakers. Her work includes legal intakes, community trainings, and legislative advocacy to expand family-friendly workplace policies. As the daughter of immigrants, a first-generation law graduate, and a past restaurant worker Diana provides a firsthand perspective in serving our client base.
Katie Fiester aconseja y representa a clientes en procedimientos administrativos sobre reclamos salariales y del seguro de desempleo y trabaja tanto en el Programa de Servicios Legales de la Comunidad como el Programa de Defena Salarial (Wage Protection Program). Ella también atiende a clientes en talleres sobre reclamos salariales (Wage Claim Clinics) semi-mensuales impartidos en las oficinas del Comisionado Laboral de California en San Francisco y Oakland.
Katie obtained her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2014. While in law school, she was a judicial extern for the Honorable Michael J. Seng, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of California. Before law school, Katie worked as a legal assistant with JusticeCorps, where she facilitated equal justice and fairness for pro se litigants.
Senior Staff Attorney
Mike Gaitley supervisa el Taller de Derechos Laborales (Workers' Rights Clinic )y dirige nuestro Programa de Servicios Legales de la Comunidad, donde ha creado y cultivado un modelo para brindar servicios legales gratuitos que ha sido emulado por varas organizaciones legales.
Our clinics provide low-income workers with expert advice by engaging highly experienced local employment law specialists and carefully selected law students as volunteers.
Before joining Legal Aid at Work as a staff attorney, Mike was a sole practitioner focusing on employment-related litigation and related services. He also worked as a union official and attorney with Pan Am's flight attendants union.
Mike graduated from the University of Michigan in 1979 and from Pace University Law School in 1984. He now serves as an adjunct professor at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and at University of San Diego School of Law.
Jenna atiende las llamadas a las líneas telefónicas de ayuda laboral y familiar e imparte talleres para conocer sus derechos y ofrece servicios legales gratuitos a trabajadores que enfrentan crisis de tipo familiar y médico. Ella también participa en el cabildeo legislativo para ampliar las políticas laborales que favorezcan a las familias y trabaja con la Coalición Laboral de Madres Saludables (Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition )y apoya las labores de nuestras colaboraciones médicas y legales (Medical Legal Partnerships).
Jenna came to Legal Aid at Work from a clerkship with trial Judge Cynthia S. Kern in Manhattan. Prior to that, she served as a post-graduate fellow with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation. Jenna had internships with the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and with the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association and the Education Rights Center in Washington.
She holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where she made dean’s list, and she holds a BA in political science (with minors in philosophy and Irish studies) from New York University.
Senior Staff Attorney
Como director de nuestro Programa de Inmigración y Origen Nacional (Immigration and National Origin Program), Chris se enfoca en prácticas laborales que afectan de manera desigual a los trabajadores indocumentados, las minorías lingüísticas y los inmigrantes recientes. En el 2014, ella alegó exitosamente el caso Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., el cual reafirmó las garantías que las leyes estatales de California brindan a los trabajadores indocumentados. Más recientemente, en un caso de los derechos civiles de primera impresión que Chris llevó a juicio, el Juzgado del Distrito Federal en San Francisco sentenció que un patrón quebrantó leyes federales de los derechos civiles cuando descalificó a un candidato para un puesto de trabajo por el único hecho de que éste había utilizado anteriormente un número de seguro social inválido para obtener trabajo.
Most recently, Chris and his team won two important victories in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In the first case, Arias v. Raimondo, which we co-counseled with California Rural Legal Assistance, the court broke new legal ground when it held that an employer's attorney violated the law when he contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") in an attempt to have his client's former employee deported after he sued for his unpaid wages. In the other case, Guerrero v. California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a precedent-setting 2015 U.S. District Court trial judgment that an employer violated federal civil rights law when it disqualified a job applicant solely because he had used an invalid Social Security number to obtain work while he was undocumented.
Chris's litigation has helped to reinforce and advance the right of undocumented immigrants to seek legal redress for workplace rights violations. In Contreras v. Corinthian Vigor Insurance Brokerage., Inc. and Singh v. Jutla, Chris and his co-counsel established the precedent that employers may not contact immigration authorities to report undocumented workers who have come forward to assert their legal rights. In Rivera v. Nibco, Inc., the Ninth Circuit upheld a protective order barring an employer from inquiring into the plaintiffs’ immigration status, thus precluding the use of the discovery process as a tool to intimidate immigrant workers seeking to assert their civil rights. And Chris’s 2014 California Supreme Court victory in Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co. established that immigrant workers have full legal standing to enforce their California workplace rights, even if they might have used an invalid Social Security number to obtain their jobs or are undocumented.
In 2013, with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Council on American-Islamic Relations ("CAIR"), Chris represented an observant Muslim woman who was fired from her job at a Hollister Co.-branded store of Abercrombie & Fitch because she refused to remove her hijab to comply with its "Look Policy." Finding Abercrombie could not prove the policy was necessary to its business, the U.S. District Court granted our client summary judgment, holding the clothing retailer had failed to reasonably accommodate her religious faith.
Chris has also worked on many cases seeking to protect workers from discrimination based on the languages they speak -- for example, "speak-English-only" policies, discrimination because of accent, and English proficiency requirements lacking any connection to the jobs in question.
Chris received a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award in 2004 for his work on Rivera and Singh, and was given the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area’s Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy in 2006. In 2007, he received Stanford Law School’s Alumni Public Service Award. La Raza Centro Legal honored him for advocacy on behalf of domestic workers in 2010. And in 2013, Chris was recognized by Chinese for Affirmative Action for his advocacy in defense of immigrants’ rights, and by CAIR for his work in Khan v. Abercrombie & Fitch.
Chris got his B.A. in political science from Yale, an A.M. in government from Harvard, and his J.D. from Stanford. He joined Legal Aid at Work as its Félix Velarde-Muñoz Graduate Intern, and returned as a staff attorney in 1990. In 2001, he was a Windcall Resident Fellow in Belgrade, Montana. During the Obama administration, Chris served on the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.
Selected published decisions:
Contreras v. Corinthian Vigor Insurance Brokerage, Inc., 25 F.Supp.2d 1053 (N.D. Cal. 1998)
Contreras v. Corinthian Vigor Insurance Brokerage, Inc., 103 F.Supp.2d 1180 (N.D. Cal. 2000)
Singh v. Jutla, 214 F.Supp.2d 1056 (N.D. Cal. 2002)
Rivera v. Nibco, Inc., 364 F.3d 1057 (9th Cir. 2004), reh’g and reh’g en banc denied, 384 F. 3d 822 (2004), cert. denied, 544 U.S. 905 (2005)
Rivera v. Nibco, Inc., 701 F.Supp.2d 1135 (E.D. Cal. 2006)
Zamora v. Elite Logistics, Inc., 478 F.3d 1160 (10th Cir. 2007) (en banc)
Rivera v. Nibco, Inc., 372 Fed.Appx. 757 (9th Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 562 U.S. 1135 (2011)
EEOC and Khan v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., 966 F.Supp.2d 949 (N.D. Cal. 2013)
Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., 59 Cal.4th 407, cert. denied, 135 S.Ct. 755 (2014)
Guerrero v. California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation, et al., 119 F.Supp.3d 1065 (N.D. Cal. 2015), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, ___ Fed.Appx. ___, 2017 WL 2963531 (9th Cir. July 12, 2017)
Arias v. Raimondo, 860 F.3d 1185 (9th Cir. 2017)
With Jennifer C. Chang, “Drawing the Line After Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v NLRB: Strategies for Protecting Undocumented Workers in the Title VII Context and Beyond,” 22 Hofstra Lab. & Emp. L.J. 473 (2005)
Erik Jimenez Rodriguez
Erik Jimenez Rodriguez is the Foundation for Advocacy, Inclusion and Resources (FAIR) Fellow with the Wage Protection and National Origin and Immigrants' Right Programs. Erik represents workers who experience wage theft and workplace retaliation for speaking up about unfair working conditions. He also advocates for workers who face immigration-related threats and retaliation or discrimination based on their national origin.Erik is passionate about advancing low-wage workers' rights and advocating for immigrant workers facing legal issues in the workplace.
Senior Staff Attorney
Jinny comenzó su carrera jurídica en Legal Aid at Work como becaria Félix Velarde-Muñoz de 1999 a 2011, a cargo de litigios en casos sobre cuestiones raciales, de discapacidades, de origen nacional y de género. Ella regresó y fue contratada como abogada en el 2008 después de trabajar en un bufete jurídico particular en Washington, D.C. Ahora, como directora de nuestro Programa sobre Derechos de las personas con Discapacidades (Disability Rights Program), ella representa a clientes que necesitan acomodos o se enfrentan a la discriminación de sus patrones, las instituciones educativas y las entidades públicas.
As a Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow, she served as Labor Counsel to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy on the Senate's Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. She also has held positions at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach; at Schneider, Wallace, Cottrell, Brayton and Konecky; and at Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian.
Jinny received her J.D. in 1999 from the University of California, Davis, and her B.A. in 1995 from the University of California, Berkeley.
Senior Staff Attorney
Elizabeth Kristen es la directora de nuestro programa sobre Igualdad de Género y Derechos de las Personas LGBT (Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program), donde ella representa a trabajadores de bajos ingresos que enfrentan la discriminación y el acoso en el trabajo a causa de su sexo, orientación sexual, identidad de género, estado de embarazo, servicio militar o condición de veterano. Además, como directora de nuestro proyecto Juego Justo para las Niñas en los Deportes (Fair Play for Girls in Sports project), con los abogados asociados en el caso Ollier v. Sweetwater Union, ella ganó la primera sentencia de un juzgado federal de apelaciones que ordenaba el cumplimiento con el Título IX de las Enmiendas Educativas en las escuelas high school.
Elizabeth graduated from Berkeley Law in 2001. She was selected for the Order of the Coif and served as an editor for the California Law Review. Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work in 2002 as a Skadden Fellow, she clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
In 2015, California Lawyer selected Elizabeth as one of its California Lawyers of the Year in the field of Civil Rights. Elizabeth is a Northern California Super Lawyer. She was the recipient of Protect our Defenders' Justice Award. In 2012-2013, Elizabeth served as a Harvard law School Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow. She was a lecturer at Berkeley Law School from 2008-2013.
Senior Staff Attorney
Rachael Langston es una abogada de los Programas sobre Igualdad de Género y Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidades (Gender Equity and Disability Rights Programs). Rachael se unió a Legal Aid at Work en el 2008. Ella aconseja y representa a trabajadores con discapacidades, con un enfoque principal en la discriminación a causa de la discapacidad y la falta de acomodos en el lugar de trabajo.
Molly Lao (she/her) is a Skadden Fellow with the Racial Economic Justice and Disability Rights Programs. Molly provides legal services to individuals whose criminal records and disabilities compound and intersect to create barriers to living wage employment. Through her fellowship, she will work to establish a medical-legal-social services partnership in Fresno.
Molly received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and her J.D. from Berkeley Law where she was honored with the Francine Marie Diaz Memorial Award for Public Service and as the John D. Weiss Employee Justice Fellow. During law school, Molly worked for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the East Bay Community Law Center, Legal Aid at Work, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. She was also Editor-in-Chief of the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law and Diversity Editor of the California Law Review.
Prior to law school, Molly was a Policy and Program Manager at the California Workforce Development Board and a consultant for the California Senate Public Safety Committee. She is also a native speaker of Cambodian.
William C. McNeill III
Senior Staff Attorney
Bill McNeill es el director de nuestro Programa sobre Igualdad Racial (Racial Equality Program) y ha estado en Legal Aid at Work desde 1988, donde se ha desempeñado como abogado supervisor. Él ha enfrentado la problemática de los derechos civiles desde hace más de 30 años, litigando varios casos diseñados para fortalecer los derechos de las minorías, incluyendo el caso Davis v. City and County of San Francisco, el cual resultó en la integración racial del departamento de bomberos, aumentó las oportunidades para las personas de color en cuanto a contrataciones y ascensos, además de conseguir que se nombrara al primer jefe de bomberos afroamericano en la historia de la ciudad.
Bill began his legal career in 1971 as a public defender with the Roxbury Defenders Committee in Roxbury, Mass. He then worked as an attorney with the Atlanta Regional Litigation Center for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as the director of the Title VII Project at the San Francisco Office of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and as regional counsel for California Rural Legal Assistance. He has received two honors from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. for his litigation work combating employment discrimination.
Bill joined Legal Aid at Work in 1988 and has served as managing attorney for the organization. He received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1971 and his A.B. in Economics from Oberlin College in 1965. He is a member of the California, Georgia, and Massachusetts bars.
Senior Staff Attorney
Lynnette Miner (she/her/hers) joined Legal Aid at Work as a Senior Staff Attorney in the Gender Equity & LGBTQ Rights Program in January 2022. Before joining Legal Aid at Work, Lynnette was a Senior Staff Attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, where she focused on class action litigation to improve prison conditions and other criminal justice advocacy. Prior to that, Lynnette was a Social Justice & Impact Litigation Fellow at the Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office and a Litigation Fellow at the Impact Fund. She also clerked for the Honorable Fortunato Benavides on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Austin, Texas.Lynnette graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard Law School. During law school, Lynnette worked with Timap for Justice in rural Sierra Leone, Legal Aid At Work, and the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama. As part of the Harvard International Human Rights Clinic, Lynnette spent a year pursuing litigation seeking to hold corporations and government officials accountable in U.S. federal courts for human rights abuses. She was also Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Human Rights Journal.
Jared Odessky (he/him) is a legal fellow in our Gender Equity & LGBTQ Rights Program. Jared advises workers who face discrimination and harassment based on their sex, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.
As a Skadden Fellow, Jared focuses on representing low-wage LGBTQ workers in underserved areas like the Central Valley. During law school, he worked for the National Employment Law Project, the Employment Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services, A Better Balance, and Outten & Golden, a plaintiff-side employment law firm. He was also a regular contributor to the blog OnLabor and a research assistant to the faculty at Harvard University’s Labor and Worklife Program. Before law school he worked as a legislative aide and as a union organizer.
Jared received his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School and his B.A., summa cum laude, from Columbia University.
Kim Ouillette (she/her/ella) is a Staff Attorney in the Wage Protection Program at Legal Aid at Work. She represents workers experiencing wage theft, retaliation, and other violations of their workplace rights. She also supports legislative advocacy efforts and provides trainings and advice to worker centers and community-based organizations.Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work, Kim clerked for the Honorable Christina Reiss on the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont. Kim is a 2018 graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law.
Como miembro de nuestros programas Trabajo y Familia (Work and Family) y SOBREVIVE (SURVIVE), Julia ayuda con las líneas telefónicas de ayuda y brinda asesoría legal, imparte talleres para conocer sus derechos y ofrece servicios legales directos a trabajadores que enfrentan crisis de tipo familiar y médica. Ella también es directora de la Coalición de Madres Saludables en el Lugar de Trabajo (Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition), la cual incluye la colaboración de varias agencias de gobierno y de la comunidad.
Julia was a legal intern with the Gender Equity Program at Legal Aid at Work and with the East Bay Community Law Center.
Julia received her J.D. from Berkeley Law at the University of California in 2011. She also received her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from UC Berkeley, and she holds a master's degree in teaching from Pace University. Before attending law school, she was a high school sports coach and Spanish teacher.
Sela (she/her) is a staff attorney in the Work and Family Program. She provides legal advice and representation to pregnant workers and new parents, workers struggling with family and medical crises, and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Sela also presents trainings on new parent and caregiving leave laws and engages in policy advocacy to advance the rights of working families.Sela received her J.D. from UC Davis School of Law – King Hall. During her time in law school, Sela represented clients in Title IX actions and domestic violence restraining order requests as a member of the UC Davis Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic. She also worked as a law clerk for the Children’s Law Center, the Family Violence Appellate Project, and Public Advocates.
Project SURVIVE Fellow
As the SURVIVE Fellow at Legal Aid at Work (LAAW), Maria’s work focuses on improving the economic stability, health, and wellbeing of survivors of violence by advocating for survivors who have been subjected to unlawful practices on the job. Most recently, Maria worked at a boutique law firm, where she assisted asylum seekers and other immigrants seek relief from deportation and release from ICE custody. In 2016 as an attorney in the Community Legal Services program, Maria helped launch LAAW’s Workers’ Rights Clinic in San Diego. After law school, Maria worked at Bay Area Legal Aid; where she assisted domestic violence survivors apply for protective orders and help with custody, visitation, and other safety planning issues. She has clerked with Legal Aid of Napa Valley and the Immigration Center for Women and Children. Maria received her B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley in 2009 and her JD from UC Hastings in 2014. During law school Maria was Co-President of La Raza Law Students Association.
Senior Staff Attorney
Sharon dirige nuestro programa Trabajo y Familia, donde ella representa a trabajadores con reclamos de tipo familiar y médico, así como aquellos relacionados con la discriminación por el embarazo, el género sexual y las discapacidades. Ella también brinda asesoría legal a trabajadores de bajos ingresos, ofrece capacitación en la comunidad y cabildea a la legislatura para ampliar los derechos de los trabajadores.
She clerked for the Honorable Richard A. Paez of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from 2004 to 2005. She joined Legal Aid at Work as a Skadden Fellow in 2005 and became a staff attorney in 2007.
Sharon received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1998 and her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2004.
Senior Staff Attorney
Kim trabaja para nuestro Programa de Igualdad de Género y Derechos de Personas LGBT, así como el Proyecto de Juego Justo para las Niñas en los Deportes. Por medio de los litigios, la educación y el cabildeo, Kim promueve la igualdad, concentrándose especialmente en las oportunidades deportivas de las mujeres jóvenes, especialmente en comunidades de bajos ingresos.
Kim has practiced a mixture of Title IX, employment and housing law, including as a staff attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid. Before law school, Kim worked for Senator Dianne Feinstein and the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C.
She graduated from Cardozo Law School in New York City in 2008. And she received a B.A. from Brown University in 2002, double concentrating in public policy and sociology. At Brown, Kim also played for the varsity women’s volleyball team.
Brisa Velazquez Oatis
Community Legal Services Program Administrator
Brisa Velazquez Oatis (she/her/ella) oversees the Workers’ Rights Clinics throughout California as a part of the Community Legal Services Program. She manages the administration and outreach of the Workers’ Rights Clinics and provides legal services to workers in California.
Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work, Brisa worked at a wage and hour firm for over two years and volunteered her time at legal services agencies.
Brisa attended the University of San Diego School of Law where she helped launch San Diego’s first Workers’ Rights Clinic. During law school, she served as a clinic counselor and began representing clients in front of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. She then clerked for Legal Aid at Work’s Disability Rights Program as a John D. Weiss Employee Justice Summer fellow. Brisa’s legal background also includes comprehensive experience in family-based immigration law and employment immigration.
Brisa is a native Spanish speaker and remains passionate about client advocacy and social justice. Brisa has been passionate about civil rights and workers’ rights since her high school years where she actively participated in civil rights’ organizing and political campaigns. Her passion was further fostered where she received her undergraduate education, at the Bay Area’s National Hispanic University, where she graduated with honors. She remains an advocate for underrepresented groups and an advocate for making legal services accessible to all individuals.
Senior Staff Attorney | Director, Wage Protection Program
Carole Vigne es abogada de la organización y directora de nuestro Programa de Defensa Salarial (Wage Protection Program). Ella brinda información asesoría y representación legal a los trabajadores acerca de sus derechos laborales, concentrándose en asuntos relacionados con el salario, el horario y el seguro de desempleo. Carole también capacita y supervisa a promotores legales para que representen a clientes en audiencias administrativas sobre reclamos salariales y apelaciones sobre el seguro de desempleo, además de hacer trabajo educativo en la comunidad.
Carole was a Skadden Fellow with Legal Aid at Work’s National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program, working to expand the rights of immigrant workers and serving San Francisco’s immigrant, limited-English-proficient, Latino workers through a workers’ rights clinic. She also litigated employment law cases at Rukin, Hyland, Doria & Tindall, LLP, and previously worked at the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
Carole received her B.A. from Brown University in 2001 and her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2007.
Stacy Villalobos es abogada en el Programa de Justicia Económica Racial. Ella representa a trabajadores que se han enfrentado a la discriminación y el racismo en el trabajo, y dirige el trabajo de "Ban the Box"/"Fair Chance" de Legal Aid at Work. Stacy ha abogado por los derechos de los trabajadores durante casi una década, comenzando durante la universidad como organizadora de trabajadores inmigrantes de bajos recursos. Stacy anteriormente se desempeñó como "Skadden Fellow" en Legal Aid at Work, donde se enfocó en representar a las trabajadoras inmigrantes en el Valle Central. Stacy también se desempeñó como auxiliar judicial del Honorable Fernando M. Olguin, Tribunal de Distrito de los Estados Unidos para el Distrito Central de California. Stacy recibió su B.A. de la Universidad de Stanford, y su licenciado en Derecho de la Escuela de Derecho de Stanford, donde fue miembra de Stanford Law Review, de la Asociación de Estudiantes Latinxs de Stanford, de la Sociedad de la Constitución Americana, y participó en la Clínica de Derechos de los Inmigrantes. Durante la escuela de derecho, Stacy trabajó en el National Immigration Law Center, ACLU del Sur de California, y en Traber & Voorhees, un bufete de abogados de derechos civiles. Ella es la primera en su familia en obtener un diploma de escuela secundaria.
Director, Wage Protection Program
George Warner (he/him) is the Director of the Wage Protection Program at Legal Aid At Work. He represents workers who have been subjected to labor trafficking and wage theft, and workers seeking to obtain wage replacement benefits, including Unemployment Insurance. George Warner joined Legal Aid at Work's Wage Protection Program in 2019. Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work, George worked for the Honorable Vince Chhabria on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and the Honorable Marsha Berzon on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. George graduated from Stanford Law School in 2017, and Brown University in 2011.
Katie encabeza la implementación de nuestro modelo de colaboración médico-legal (Medical-Legal Partnership, o MLP, por sus siglas en inglés) en el Condado de Contra Costa. Como parte de MLP, Katie brinda capacitación acerca de los derechos a los permisos, los acomodos y la recuperación del salario para proveedores de atención médica y trabajadores de bajos ingresos que estén embarazadas o que sean padres primerizos. Ella también contrata personal para los talleres en la comunidad y la línea telefónica de ayuda sobre Trabajo y Familia en nuestras oficinas.
Robert E. Borton
Bob Borton fue socio en Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe, donde se concentró en los litigios comerciales complejos, con énfasis en demandas colectivas, derechos de consumidores, derechos civiles, bienes raíces y el sector bancario. Él tiene mucha experiencia en juzgados y juicios y ha litigado una amplia gama de casos sobre derechos civiles, inmigración y de caseros e inquilinos. Él fue miembro de la junta directiva de Legal Aid at Work durante más de 25 años y ahora brinda asesoría en litigios cuando sea necesario al programa de Igualdad de Género y Derechos de Personas LGBT de Legal Aid at Work.
From 1992 to 2007, Bob led Heller Ehrman’s pro bono practice and the firm’s litigation and trial advocacy training. He later practiced with the Oakland firm of McShane & Felson.
Bob received the State Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award, the Robert Sproul Pro Bono Award, the Phillip Burton Immigration and Civil Rights Award, Legal Aid at Work’s Roll Call for Justice Award, the Public Interest Clearinghouse Opening Doors to Justice Award, the San Francisco Bar Association Award of Merit, and the American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award.
As an adjunct professor at Berkeley Law, Bob taught pre-trial civil litigation practice from 1982 to 2013. He received his J.D. from Michigan Law School in 1972 and his B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1964.
Professor Joseph R. Grodin
Joseph Grodin es un profesor emérito de Derecho en la Faculta de Derecho de UC Hastings y fue juez asociado de la Suprema Corte de California durante cinco años. Él fue co-fundador del Taller sobre Derechos Laborales de Legal Aid at Work. Lea su biografía completa aquí.
Professor Joseph Grodin, a native Californian, received his B.A. with honors from UC Berkeley in 1951 and his J.D. cum laude from Yale Law School in 1954. Upon graduation from law school he traveled to England on a Fulbright grant and earned a Ph.D. in labor law and labor relations from the London School of Economics. You can read a full bio here.
Professor Grodin practiced law in San Francisco from 1955 to 1971, specializing in labor law and serving pro bono in a variety of civil rights and civil liberties matters. During portions of that period he taught as an adjunct professor at UC Hastings and a visiting professor at the University of Oregon Law School. Active in bar affairs, he served as chairman of the labor law section of the San Francisco Bar Association and as a member of the State Bar Committee on Legal Services.
From 1972 to 1979, he was a full-time professor at UC Hastings, teaching courses in labor law, employment discrimination, arbitration, and contracts. During portions of that period he served as a member of the state's inaugural Agricultural Labor Relations Board, as foreman of the Alameda County Grand Jury, and as a visiting professor at Stanford Law School.
In 1979, Professor Grodin was appointed Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal. He was elevated to presiding justice in 1981, and in 1982 was appointed Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, a position he held until January 1987, when he returned to the UC Hastings faculty.
He retired from full-time teaching in May 2005. He continues to teach part-time and to do arbitration and mediation work.
Professor Grodin is the author of numerous scholarly books and articles. He is particularly proud, however, of a book on hiking trails in the Silver Lake area of the Sierra, which he coauthored with his daughter, Sharon.
Henry Hewitt es asesor de medio tiempo de los programas individuales de Legal Aid at Work, en diversos litigios. Él ahora se encarga de casos relacionados con la discriminación por el estado de embarazo y el sistema de fianzas monetarias de San Francisco, entre otros temas.
Cacilia trabaja en el programa de Igualdad de Género y Derechos de las Personas LGBT de Legal Aid at Work, en casos relacionados con la igualdad de género, los derechos de las mujeres y las familias de bajos ingresos y la problemática de los veteranos. El trabajo de Cacilia ha resultado en cinco sentencias publicadas a la fecha, siendo la más reciente la primera sentencia federal que aplica el Título IX a los programas deportivos para niñas de Kindergarten hasta el doceavo grado. El equipo de abogados recibió el premio de Abogado del Año de la revista California Lawyer (CLAY, por sus siglas en inglés) por su trabajo en este caso, en marzo del 2015.
One of Cacilia's most recent published decisions was a win with Legal Aid at Work and our co-counsel in 2014 in Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School District. The case resulted in the first federal court ruling applying Title IX to girls’ athletics in K-12 schools. The team received the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award for that work in March 2015.
Cacilia and Elizabeth co-authored “Unequal Play,” an article about the case in LA Lawyer magazine in June 2015. They also were joint recipients of the 2016 Justice Award from Protect Our Defenders for their work on behalf of military service members who were sexually assaulted during their service and then retaliated against when they spoke out.
Cacilia earlier served as a council member for the California Breast Cancer Research Program for three years and was an associate with O’Melveny and Myers LLP, where she focused on securities fraud class action litigation. As a congressional fellow at the office of U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, she was the lead staff member on legislative issues pertaining to food stamp benefits, child abuse and neglect, and welfare benefits for immigrants and Native Americans.
She received her B.A. in psychology from UC Berkeley in 1992, her Ph.D in developmental child psychology from UCLA in 2001, and her J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 2000, where she graduated with the Order of the Coif.
Ruth Silver Taube
Ruth Silver Taube aconseja a Legal Aid at Work en asuntos relacionados con los planes de beneficios por discapacidad ERISA y además aboga enérgicamente en contra del tráfico de mano de obra. Ella también tiene su propio despacho el bufete de abogados Silver & Taube y ha sido profesora adjunta de la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Santa Clara desde hace 13 años.
Daniela fundó y dirige el Centro para los Derechos de los Trabajadores en Sacramento (Center for Workers’ Rights in Sacramento), el cual se dedica a mejorar las condiciones laborales, a disminuir los obstáculos para conseguir empleo y a resolver las injusticias laborales que padecen los trabajadores de bajos ingresos y sus familias. En su papel como abogada especial del LAS-ELC, ella ayuda a administrar nuestro Taller sobre Derechos Laborales en el Área de Sacramento. Ella representó anteriormente a sindicatos en Los Ángeles.
Daniela formerly represented unions in Los Angeles. She received her J.D. from Berkeley Law in 2012 and her B.A. in politics and international relations and philosophy from Scripps College in 2005.
With Elizabeth Kristen, director of the Gender Equity and LGBT Rights Program at Legal Aid at Work, and with Blanca Banuelos, Daniela coauthored the article “Workplace Violence and Harassment of Low-Wage Workers,” which appeared in the Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law, January 2015.
Jessica Barragan Carmona
Central Valley Organizer
Jessica (She/Her) is the community organizer for the Central Valley program that is under the Gender/LGBTQ program. Raised in Stockton, Jessica has seen first-hand the empowerment reliable, accessible legal services can have on immigrant communities. Jessica conducts intakes, manages calls to the Central Valley helpline and works closely with Central Valley local organizations to provide legal services, advice and information to directly impacted communities
Work & Family Program Organizer
As part of the Work and Family Program team, Linda is passionate about providing advocacy, spreading empowerment, raising awareness, and providing resource referrals in English and Spanish for workers struggling with family and medical crises, with an emphasis on families impacted by COVID-19. She supports project helplines and legal intakes, and helps coordinate social media and outreach efforts to increase awareness of rights and resources available to low-income workers.
Aldo (he/him/el) supports attorneys across LAAW’s programs by conducting legal research, formatting legal documents, recording client intakes, and translating documents from English to Spanish. Aldo also serves clients at Wage Claim Clinics at the Labor Commissioner offices in San Francisco and Oakland twice a month. As a native Spanish speaker, Aldo often serves immigrant and Spanish-speaking workers and helps facilitate communications between attorneys and clients.
Tishon disfruta de ayudar a las personas y cree firmemente en el poder de la ley para abordar la problemática de la justicia social. Al apoyar a los abogados en todos los programas de LAS-ELC, ella indaga disposiciones de ley y prepara alegatos, citatorios, notificaciones sobre declaraciones juradas, hojas de cálculo, correspondencia a clientes y demás documentos.
Tishon has worked as a legal assistant and legal secretary in a variety of fields, including international trade, civil litigation, and employment. At Inland Counties Legal Services, she drafted and managed pleadings, prepared expense reports, and maintained a docket and individual lawyers’ calendars, among other responsibilities.
With the Oakland insurance firm of Trenk, DiPasquale, Della Ferra & Sodono, she also oversaw a case management database and managed trial exhibits, and she prepared and processed summonses and paperwork for purposes such as MCLE compliance and attorney timekeeping.
Tishon studied general education at Mesa College and took paralegal courses at Western College.
Valerie (she/her) comes to us from the Paralegal Program at San Francisco State University where she received her ABA –approved Paralegal Certificate, with honors. She provides legal support across all programs in the organization including researching civil procedure and local rules, performing analysis on discovery, calendaring deadlines, and preparing legal documents.
Language Access Coordinator
King proporciona asistencia lingüística y legal a trabajadores de bajos ingresos con dominio limitado del inglés. Él ayudó a fundar y administra nuestra línea telefónica en el idioma chino, además de hacer labor de promoción semanal sobre derecho laboral en la radio y los periódicos en el idioma chino. Antes de unirse a LAS-ELC en 1996, King se desempeño como periodista en medios de difusión.
External Relations and Development
Vice President of Strategy
Kevin (he/him) cultivates the strategic alliances that make our mission possible. In that role, he oversees the organization’s communication efforts to help raise awareness of our work and the impact it has on the lives of our low-wage worker clients. Kevin also works closely with foundations, Board members, governmental entities, and other key supporters to ensure that we have the resources we need to carry out our mission. He also helps teach our Workers' Rights Clinic in East Palo Alto, which is operated in partnership with Stanford Law School. A plaintiffs’-side employment lawyer by training, Kevin was previously a litigation partner in the law firm of Kerr & Wagstaffe, during which time he served on Legal Aid at Work’s Board as the Chair of the External Relations Committee. Kevin received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2006 and his B.A. in philosophy from the University of Michigan in 2002.
Kevin (he/him) works in Legal Aid at Work’s development department, assisting in a variety of activities including database work, gift entry and acknowledgment, and communications. He worked previously as a non-profit database associate, a street fundraiser, and an assistant pre-school teacher among other childcare positions.
Steve administra campañas de recaudación de fondos y desarrollo para LAS-ELC. Él se integró como coordinador de nuestra campaña para Fondos de la Justicia de $4 millones en el 2006. Él ha trabajado para seis organizaciones sin fines de lucro del Área de la Bahía, incluyendo la Orquesta Sinfónica del Este de la Bahía de Oakland (Oakland East Bay Symphony), Shanti y los Músicos Contemporáneos de San Francisco (San Francisco Contemporary Music Players).
Steve attended Iowa State University’s School of Architecture and worked for two national design firms in Chicago, Fountain Valley, Palo Alto and San Francisco for 14 years.
Reach Steve at [email protected] or 415-593-0138.
Greg administra la base de datos de los donantes de LAS-ELC y colabora con otros miembros del equipo de desarrollo en llamados y actividades para solicitar fondos. Él llegó desde el Museo Discovery en Sausalito, donde ocupó varios puestos, incluyendo el de administrador de entradas y la base de datos. En dichos puestos, él hizo promoción a los programas del museo, contrató y supervisó a empleados de la recepción, capturó y administró datos sobre donantes y generó informes, además de impulsar tres actividades anuales para recaudar fondos, entre otras responsabilidades.
He earlier served six years as membership director for the San Francisco Zoo, had an internship with the National Park Service, and worked as membership manager for the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society.
An avid historical costumer, Greg helps direct the annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair and performs at the Northern California Pirate Festival and the Northern California Renaissance Faire. He also constructs his own props and costumes.
Grants & Impact Assessment Specialist
As a Grants and Impact Assessment Specialist, Madeleine Rowell (she/her) acts as a project coordinator for Legal Aid at Work's grant application and reporting processes, working to ensure the organization's grant-related work aligns with LAAW's overall programmatic strategy. In doing so, Madeleine gathers critical information that allows Legal Aid at Work to know how well we are achieving our goals and how we can better serve those in need. Before joining Legal Aid at Work, Madeleine was a student at Stanford University, where she earned her B.A. in comparative studies in race and ethnicity with a concentration in politics, policy, and equity and a minor in psychology.
Chief Operating Officer
Howard oversees all the operational and administrative functions for Legal Aid at Work. A member of the management team, he is primarily responsible for office management, human resources, compliance, technology, financial management, and oversight. Howard has held a number of roles in support of the mission of the organization since 1997 and was the Director of Human Resources prior to becoming the Chief Operating Officer.
As the operations associate at Legal Aid at Work, BreAnna (She/Her) supports our staff, clerks, and network administrator in a variety of operations related tasks including leading onsite management tasks such as conducting IT orientations and timekeeping training for on-boarding new users such as attorneys, law clerks, and staff. She also collaborates with the network administrator on software configurations as needed.
Ana E. Flores
Senior Intake Assistant and Receptionist
Ana plays an integral role in the daily operations and flow of our office and is the first Legal Aid at Work staffer that many of our clients speak with. Bilingual in Spanish and English, Ana conducts initial intakes and determines where to direct first-time callers. She also manages appointments for our legal clinics across California; interprets and translates for clients and potential clients in the office; and does written translation work.
Human Resource & Accounting Manager,
Ian (he/him) joined the Legal Aid at Work team in May 2020, acting as both Accounting and Human Resources manager. His day-to-day consists of working with both staff and individual departments, maintaining and developing the organization’s financial and human resource systems to sustain a high level of productivity. He works closely with his department to coordinate the annual audit, budget and enrollment. Ian received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from San Francisco State University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Accountancy from Golden Gate University. With over ten years of experience working with a variety of industries ranging from government organizations, for-profit corporations, and international nonprofits, Ian utilizes his expertise to support Legal Aid at Work’s mission and program. In his free time he loves enjoying food from his home country of Taiwan, and walking his twin dogs. He is incredibly grateful to be a member of the Legal Aid at Work family.
Senior Accounting Manager
As the Senior Accounting Manager, Galina oversees a variety of day to day financial and accounting functions to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the financials at LAAW. Among other things, she is responsible for preparing the annual organizational budget and leading the annual audit effort. She works closely with Development Department as well as Legal and other program Staff. Galina comes to LAAW with over a decade of nonprofit experience, and with a passion for the work and mission of Legal Aid at Work.
Finance and Operations Manager
Jerome supervisa el funcionamiento interno de nuestra organización. Él ayuda al director de finanzas a llevar los libros contables y a codificar; administra la nómina y las prestaciones, además de adquirir provisiones y asegurarse de pagar las cuentas a tiempo. Él está estudiando finanzas y contabilidad.
Scott Neilson es el administrador de la red de computadoras de Legal Aid at Work, donde ha estado concentrado desde 1999 en la optimización de la tecnología de las oficinas para facilitar que el personal brinde asistencia a los clientes. Scott es originario de San Francisco y fue alumno de la escuela Archbishop Riordan High School y San Francisco State University. Él se precia de contribuir con su talento al trabajo de una institución de San Francisco tan importante.
Vice President of Finance and Operations
Lawrence (he/him) joined Legal Aid at Work as its Vice President of Finance & Operations in the summer of 2021. He is responsible to the organization’s financial health and sustainability as well as day-to-day operations such as IT and office management. As a member of the management team, he contributes his ideas and experience to the organization’s strategy and growth. Prior to Legal Aid at Work, Lawrence has been a non-profit leader with over 10 years of experience in several nonprofit organizations range from social justice, community service to performing art and international education development. He earned his B.As in Accounting and International Business and went on receiving Master in Taxation and MBA. He is currently pursuing on his master degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. As an immigrant himself, a people of color and a member of LGBTQIA+, he is very proud of Legal Aid at Work’s mission and programs, and of being a part of Legal Aid at Work family!