Los Angeles Black Worker Center

Los Angeles, CA

This is the fellowship description for this mentor organization for 2020. 

The LA Black Worker Center (LA BWC) builds organized power among Black workers and the extended community to reverse disproportionate levels of unemployment and underemployment.  The Center's mission is to increase access to quality careers, address employment discrimination, and improve conditions in industries that employ Black workers.

The Center builds authentic grassroots leadership among workers to challenge and undo public policies and corporate practices that promote inequality in the labor market and perpetuate inferior jobs in the Black community.  The Center is the first in California and will give students a practical learning experience of the black workforce in Los Angeles.

The Peggy Browning Fellow will be on the front lines of fighting against employment discrimination faced by black workers in the hiring process and in the workkplace. Our Fellow will do so in two ways:  managing the Black Worker Center's employment discrimination clinic, including expanding the clinic to other workplace rights, and enforcing the anti-discrimination protection in state and local law.

1. Employment Discrimination Clinic Intake and Expansion

The Los Angeles area currently lacks any significant legal capacity to assist lower-income workers who are affected by racial discrimination in employment.  African-American workers are twice as likely to file employment discrimination claims but have half the chance of getting their cases heard.  In partnership with the the UCLA Law School and Legal Aid at Work, the Black Worker Center has developed a legal clinic focused on employment rights and race discrimination. Responding to demonstrated member need, the Peggy Browning Fellow will also work with these and other partners to expand the clinic to accommodate a broader variety of workplace rights, including unemployment insurance, wage and hour violations, and worker's compensation.

The Peggy Browning Fellow will assist in staffing the LA BWC legal clinic by:

  • Conducting interviews with workers and organizers to identify potential employment law, labor law and health and safety violations and assess workers' individual issues to determine the appropriate referral, if any;
  • File wage and hour claims with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or the City of LA office of Wage Standards (OWS);
  • File employment discrimination claims with the appropriate governmental agency (such as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP);
  • Conduct "Know Your Rights" presentations that address race discrimination issues, as well as other traditional employment rights violations such as wage and hour claims, unemployment benefits, worker's compensation, and discrimination based on former incarceration; and
  • Assist with filing administrative race discrimination complaints with state and federal agencies.

The Peggy Browning Fellow will be the LA BWC liaison between community and university partners of the legal clinic.  The Peggy Browning Fellow will also assist in coordinating worker meetings with attorneys, tracking and charting worker cases and convening LABWC Legal Advisory Committee Meetings.

2. Employment Discrimination Protection in the City of Los Angeles

Discrimination has created a crisis in the Black community. Although the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids racial discrimination in the workplace, black workers continue to face higher rates of discrimination in the workforce than white workers do. The federal government is rolling back civil rights enforcement efforts. Further, Workers face difficulties in using courts to confront racism in the workplace and local entities can provide an alternative avenue for identifying and redressing civil rights violations.

The LA Black Worker Center is advocating for local control in order to enforce and resolve employment discrimination issues. The Peggy Browning Fellow will assist in the LA BWC's efforts to enact state and local policy to enforce anti-discrimination protection by:

  • Delivering training to members about federal and state anti-discrimination law;
  • Interview workers and identifying worker stories that highlight employment discrimination claims;
  • Researching and identifying existing law and new law involving worker rights;
  • Referring workers who experience discrimination to the LA BWC legal clinic.

There is a strong emphasis on legal research and writing, focusing on developing a statewide and city anti-discrimination policy and presenting different legal strategies for advancing BWC campaigns focused on civil rights workplace protections.

Interested students should be comfortable working directly with workers in a community organizing context, conducting interviews and other research on potential claims, and helping attorneys assemble information needed to bring claims and cases. Successful candidates will have excellent verbal and written communication skills, be detail-oriented, energetic, and have a commitment to organizing low-wage and disadvantaged workers.  Some experience working with community/union organizers and lawyers is preferred.

The total ten-week stipend for this fellowship in 2019 will be $6,000.

Address cover letter to:

Mindy Garland
Los Angeles Black Worker Center
5350 Crenshaw Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90043