|LW.10215 / LW.10625
Professor Laura Sager
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students
No prerequisites or co-requisites.
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 three discrimination cases on our docket. One is a sex discrimination case on behalf of a woman who was terminated in her third year of a hospital’s surgical residency program. Another is a sex discrimination case on behalf of a woman security guard who was subjected to sexual harassment by a co-worker and then suffered adverse employment actions, including a reduction in her hours and job assignments. The third case is a disability discrimination case on behalf of a woman who was employed as a staff analyst by a New York City agency which denied her request to work from home as a reasonable accommodation for her lung disease after the Mayor ordered the end of work-from-home for City workers generally. All the cases are in the earliest stages of litigation as we are now preparing to file federal complaints in all three. By Fall 2023, we are likely to be in discovery in those cases. If any of the cases settles before then, we will take on another matter in 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.
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.
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 meeting with small groups with 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 administrator, and/or 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.
* 12 credits consisting of 3 clinical credits and 4 academic seminar credits each semester.