Clinic Secures Unemployment Benefits for Low-Wage Workers

The UC Hastings Workers’ Rights Clinic – COVID 19 Response, retooled to help low-wage workers secure unemployment insurance benefits, has helped dozens of individuals who have lost vital income and given students their first practical experience of employment law.

“The clinic has met the twin goals of helping workers impacted by the pandemic to stabilize their income and giving students hands-on lawyering experience they can build on throughout law school and their careers,” said Professor Mai Linh Spencer, who, with Professor Miye Goishi, supervises the summer clinic.

So far, students have won all six unemployment hearings for clients, settled two complex wage and hour cases, filed an appellate brief with the Unemployment Appeals Board, and filed claims with the California Labor Commissioner.

The clinic is one of the very few in-house law school clinics developed and implemented specifically in response to the pandemic. It is consistent with the college’s historical leadership in clinical education and responsiveness to community need.

Yasmine Hajjaji

“My summer clinic experience is much more than I thought it would be,” said Yasmine Hajjaji, a rising 2L. “The clinic provided me with valuable litigation, writing, and research experience, as well as other skills I did not expect to accumulate this summer. Professors Spencer and Goishi were extremely supportive while also giving students the room to get creative with our assigned cases. The clinic allowed me, as a first-year law student, to feel productive during the current economic and health crisis erupting across the country.”

Kellon McGuire
Kellon McGuire

Rising 2L Kellon McGuire, who hopes to go into litigation, agreed. “UC Hastings’ Workers’ Rights Clinic allowed me to help people seriously affected by the pandemic while simultaneously providing supervised experience in client interfacing, case valuation, settlement and negotiation, and trial preparation. I felt like we were able to deliver real help, hope, and results to our clients amidst the utterly turbulent backdrop of COVID-19.”

Jobless Californians can get up to seven additional weeks of Federal-State Extended Duration unemployment benefits, bringing the maximum duration to 59 weeks for those on regular state unemployment and 46 weeks for those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. These extensions come at a time when thousands of Californians who filed for unemployment months ago are still waiting for their first week of benefits.