Tuesday, May 10, 2011

DFEH Clinic Partners With UC Irvine Law School To Combat Workplace Discrimination

By Thomas A. Lenz

In a memo dated May 3, 2011, it was announced that the Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") would begin a new collaborative effort with the University of California at Irvine Law School to combat allegations of systemic discrimination.  DFEH and UC Irvine have established a clinic in which law students will assist DFEH agents on tasks which include evaluation, investigation, and prosecution of discrimination claims.  The clinic is prompted by a $6+ million class action settlement of discrimination claims against Verizon and can expand into other cases.  In this time of tightened public budgets and a difficult hiring market for new law graduates, we are likely to see additional efforts by public agencies and law schools to enhance training and future employment opportunities in government service.  Employers facing DFEH or other administrative claims arising in the workplace may well see heightened activity on their cases through this partnership and law students the DFEH describes as the "civil rights leaders of the future."