Civil Advocacy Clinic: Promoting Economic Justice One Case at a Time

Protester holding sign saying "Worker's Rights Are Human Rights."

The Civil Advocacy Clinic (CAC) pursues economic justice by advocating for exploited low-wage workers in D.C. and Maryland. Our student attorneys represent the essential workers whose labor has been so critically important throughout the pandemic. The typical docket includes wage and hour cases and unemployment benefits appeals; but the CAC also represents clients in cases involving debt defense, eviction defense, and public benefits. A few case highlights:

The CAC represented a daycare worker who alleged she worked 50 hours per week, without receiving overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the D.C. wage and hour statutes. Her employer also failed to pay her for sick leave and accrued vacation time. Student attorneys filed a complaint in D.C. Superior Court and ultimately reached a settlement with the daycare for $23,000.  

Student attorneys also represented a former security guard at the Department of Justice who appealed her denial of unemployment benefits when she resigned after experiencing retaliation for reporting a supervisor’s racist Facebook posts. Student attorneys successfully represented their client in a de novo trial before an Administrative Law Judge and secured a judgment permitting their client to collect her unemployment benefits.

The CAC is partnering with ONE DC Black Workers’ and Wellness Center to highlight the workplace exploitation that Black Workers experience in Washington, D.C.  Student attorneys are interviewing workers and creating testimonials that expose patterns of exploitation, identify the specific vulnerabilities of Black low-wage workers, and outline accessible legal solutions for wage theft. The Clinic and ONE DC will feature these testimonials on their websites and their social media campaigns. In this way, we are working to shape the narrative of Black low-wage workers’ workplace exploitation and empower and protect community members.