Civil Litigation - Employment Law Clinic

LW.10215 / LW.10625
Professor Laura Sager
Professor Lee Bantle
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students
Year-long course
14 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites.

Course Description

The Civil Litigation-Employment Law Clinic provides two semesters of training in the tasks and skills involved in civil litigation through simulation and fieldwork cases involving employment law.

The Clinic represents individuals in claims of (1) employment discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, age and disability; (2) violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (denial of leave and retaliation); and (3) violations of the minimum wage and overtime pay laws. Most of the Clinic cases are in federal court, although some are in federal agencies such as the EEOC and the Department of Labor, in state court, or in state and local agencies, such as the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
The Clinic’s docket comes from cases referred by various sources, including the pro se office of the federal courts, other attorneys, and civil rights organizations. In many cases, the Clinic is co-counsel with outside organizations such as The Legal Aid Society, Make the Road by Walking, an advocacy organization for low-wage Latino immigrant workers; Mobilization for Justice (formerly known as MFY Legal Services), representing low income individuals and persons with disabilities; and Legal Momentum (formerly known as the NOW Legal Defense Fund), an advocacy organization for women’s rights.

The work that students do on Clinic cases spans the full range of litigation tasks performed by attorneys. These include meetings with the clients, interviewing witnesses, conferring with opposing counsel, taking depositions, and appearing in court for scheduling conferences, argument of motions, evidentiary hearings, trials, and appeals. Much of the fieldwork involves drafting documents such as pleadings, discovery requests, correspondence with opposing counsel and the court, deposition outlines, and briefs. Typically, two students work on each fieldwork case. However, more than two students may work on cases that are particularly complex or demanding.

We currently have four discrimination cases on our docket. In one case, the client is a woman who was terminated in her third year of a hospital’s surgical residency program after she had made numerous complaints of sex discrimination in the residency program.

In a second case, the client, who worked as a security guard at a residential high-rise building, was subjected to egregious physical sexual harassment by a co-worker and was fired after she complained of the abuse.

In the third and fourth cases, the clients are two women who suffer from a disability, a serious lung disease in the third case and fibromyalgia in the fourth case. Both women successfully performed the essential functions of their jobs as administrators remotely during the Covid lock down.  When the mandatory work-from-home ended and their employers instructed them to resume work in person, they each asked their employer to allow them to continue to work remotely as a reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Both employers refused, and both women were fired.

The first and third cases are pending in federal court: the first case is in the Eastern District and third case in the Southern District. The other two cases are pending before the New York State Division of Human Rights, but it is likely that by the start of the fall semester we will have filed federal complaints in both cases.  If any of the cases settles over the coming months, we will find a new case to take its place.

The seminar component of the course deals with the substantive and procedural law related to Clinic cases. The goal is to give students the opportunity to experience and reflect on how the rules of civil procedure and the rules of evidence operate in the real world of federal litigation. Students participate in simulation exercises derived from prior Clinic cases. These exercises include initial and on-going case planning; drafting pleadings, discovery requests, motions and briefs; arguing motions; taking depositions; preparing for trial and performing trial work, including direct and cross-examination of witnesses.

On average, students spend about 20 hours per week on the course. However, the workload may be heavier or lighter at different times during the semester depending on the demands of the fieldwork cases and simulation exercises.

Learning Outcomes

By participating in the seminar and working both on real cases and the simulation case, students develop a thorough knowledge of the substantive employment law involved in those cases. They learn about the key tasks in civil litigation, develop the skills required to perform them, and gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the litigation process as a means to resolve employment disputes.

Application Procedure

Students who are interested in taking the Clinic should submit the standard application, resume and transcript online through CAMS. Professor Sager will schedule times for Zoom meetings with small groups of applicants who would like more information about the course and the opportunity to ask questions. She will also be available to meet individually with students who so wish. The Clinic administrative assistant, Trena Crockett, will contact applicants to schedule the group information sessions and any individual meetings with Professor Sager. These meetings are not mandatory, and applicants are not selected based on attendance.

Student Contacts

Emma Austin
Samuel Robert Ball
David Barenholtz
Sean Connolly
Juliana Karp    
Ya-Chi Lee (Christie)
Rachel Schwartz
Sarah Percoski


Jessica Daneshvar
Matthew Dorfman
Allison Hrabar
Rosamond Kopczynski
Sydney Massenberg
Kawan Nanavati
Peter Rawlings
Emma Stanton


* 14 credits consisting of 3 clinical credits and 4 academic seminar credits each semester.