Civil Litigation - Employment Law Clinic

LW.10215 / LW.10625
Professor Laura Sager
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8 students
Year-long course
12 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. This year, and for the past few years, the course was also offered as one- semester only (fall or spring). However, in 2021-2022, it will be offered only in the year-long format.

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 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 one case in federal court, one case before the EEO unit of the U.S. Postal Service, and four cases before the EEOC. Some or all of these cases will probably still be on the docket in Fall 2021. The federal case asserts claims of sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about the harassment. It also involves issues concerning mandatory arbitration and misclassification as an independent contractor rather than an employee. The case against the Postal Service asserts claims of interference with rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, retaliation for seeking FMLA leave, and failure to provide reasonable accommodation of a disability. The cases before the EEOC raise claims by a group of ethnically Chinese phlebotomists of disparate treatment on the basis of race and national origin in regard to pay and work assignments. If by Fall 2021 we have not been able to resolve the cases that are currently before the Postal Service EEO office and the EEOC, we may file those cases in federal court.

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; and performing trial work, including direct and cross-examination of witnesses, opening statements, and closing arguments.

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 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, Marie Morrow, 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

2019-20 2020-21

Full Year Clinic
Alex Newton
Audrey Crabtree-Hannigan
Hannah Meropol
Karenna Martin

Full Year Clinic
Christina Folds
Mac McMechan
Nicholas Mendolia
Miranda Rosen
Anne Tewksbury

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