Greater Boston Legal Services

Employment Law Unit
Boston, MA

This is the 2021 description for this mentor organization.

Greater Boston Legal Services, New England's oldest nonprofit legal services organization, is dedicated to helping low-wage workers in the Greater Boston area to fight exploitation and abuse in the workplace. The Employment Law Unit (EU) provides free legal representation to individual low-wage workers, does community-based outreach and legal education, and represents grassroots community-based organizations in systemic policy campaigns to improve wages, job opportunities, job security and benefits for low-income workers. Our advocacy and direct representation focuses on clients and issues that will advance racial justice and immigrant rights. Most staff are members of UAW Local 2320, the National Organization of Legal Services Workers. They work closely with the Massachusetts labor movement, often joining forces with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and individual unions to advocate for low-wage workers' rights before the state legislature and administrative agencies.

The Peggy Browning Fellow would work with six attorneys and one paralegal. The Unit typically hires at least 5-6 law students during the summer, and GBLS as a whole hires approximately 60 summer students so there is plenty of peer support available. The Fellow would do legal research and writing and do direct representation of clients in cases involving denial of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, nonpayment of wages (including minimum wage and overtime claims), family and medical leave violations, tax controversies, other problems with working conditions and the exercise of employment-related rights.

The unit offers extensive training in many areas of employment law. During summer 2021, much of the Unit's work will likely continue to focus on addressing the high demand and needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including unemployment benefits and health and safety issues. The unemployment benefits work will include an opportunity to represent one or more clients in an unemployment benefits appeal hearing, which provides a "mini-trial" experience, including client preparation, legal and factual analysis, and direct and cross examination.

Depending on the student's language capacity and current COVID-19 circumstances, the student may have an opportunity to assist with the intake and outreach in some of the Boston area's low-income immigrant communities serving the Latino, Haitian, Brazilian, Chinese and Vietnamese communities. In addition, the student may have an opportunity to work on larger group or class action cases in the Unit. Additionally, students will have exposure to implementation work on one or more of the Unit's recent successful policy campaigns which include a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, improvements to the Unemployment Insurance System, Earned Sick Time, Paid Family and Medical Leave, and Earned Income Tax Credit increases.

This position is open to students at all levels but priority will be given to students with a demonstrated interest in or background with plaintiff-side employment law, union-side labor law, or advocacy on behalf of immigrant workers. Fluency in Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Cantonese or Mandarin, and Vietnamese is preferred but not required.

For summer 2021, GBLS hopes that the Fellow will be working in the Boston office, but depending on public health circumstances the work may be remote. If the Fellow would prefer to work remotely, this should be mentioned in the cover letter.

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

Address cover letter to:

Audrey Richardson, Employment Law Unit
Greater Boston Legal Services
197 Friend Street
Boston, MA 02114

ATTN: Peggy Browning Fellowship

www.gbls.org