WA Supreme Court Decides in Favor of Farmworkers Who Challenged Gun-toting Foreman’s Intimidating Practices

Washington Supreme Court Decides in Favor of Farmworkers Who Challenged Gun-toting Foreman’s Intimidating Practices

columbia20legal20servicesThe Washington Supreme Court today announced a unanimous decision in favor of Farmworkers who were threatened by a gun-toting foreman and fired after reporting his practice to law enforcement. The Court was tasked with answering two legal questions involving the definition of a “farm labor contractor” under Washington’s Farm Labor Contractor Act (FLCA) and whether the agribusiness defendants “knowingly” used the contractor. The Court answered both questions in the affirmative, supporting the Farmworkers.

 The class action lawsuit was filed in 2012, after a group of ten farmworkers alleged they were fired by their employer, NW Management and Realty Services, Inc. (NW Management), in retaliation for contacting authorities because their foreman was routinely displaying and shooting his gun in the orchards to intimidate the workers and cheat them of their wages. Several of the fired farmworkers had worked at the same orchards for more than a decade.

 In 2013, a federal judge awarded the class of 722 farmworkers $1,004,000 in damages against NW Management and the orchard owners, affiliates of the John Hancock Insurance company, for violations of state law protecting farm workers. Additional worker claims, including the retaliatory firing claims, were settled by the parties at the time. As a result of today’s decision, the case will return to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and, based on the Washington Supreme Court’s definitive ruling, the 2013 judgment is likely to be upheld and each worker will receive between $1,000 – $3,000 depending on how many seasons she or he worked.

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Application deadlines for scholarships extended!

Charles Z. Smith Scholarship – Application Deadline extended to April 1

mainThe Charles Z. Smith Scholarship honors Washington State Supreme Court Justice Charles Z. Smith for his commitment to promoting diversity for all people of color in the legal profession. Establishment of this scholarship recognizes that people of color, particularly African-Americans, are underrepresented in the legal profession and recognizes the pivotal role that effective legal advocacy plays in protecting the rights of minorities both individually and collectively. The recipient(s) will receive $500 to be applied towards their next quarter’s tuition and fees. 

To apply, applicants: (1) must be a student of color in the 1L class; (2) must submit 2 letters of recommendation reflecting the applicant’s demonstrated involvement with and commitment to servicing one or more of the ethnic specific communities. The letters of recommendation must disclose the applicant’s relationship to the recommending party and include an appraisal of the applicant’s commitment to the goal of the scholarship; (3) must have financial need (as determined by OSA); and (4) must submit a personal statement (not to exceed 500 words) describing the applicant’s demonstrated commitment and ties to the minority community. All application materials must be submitted to William H. Gates Hall Room 231 (Office of Admissions & Financial Aid) or via email to:lawadm@uw.edu by 5:00PM PST on April 1, 2016.

 Ralph W. Johnson American Indian Law Scholarship – Application Deadline extended  April 1

The Law School’s Native American Law Center was founded to carry on and expand the work of Professor Ralph W. Johnson. For forty-four years, Professor Johnson taught thousands of students at the UW Law School and provided direct assistance to the tribes in Washington State and across the nation. Professor Johnson’s scholarly work in the field of Indian Law is nationally known, his writings have been cited more than 300 times by the United States Supreme Court as well as by lower federal and state court judges. He was the first professor in the United States to teach a class in federal Indian law. It was in honor for Professor Johnson that his wife, Anne Johnson, established this scholarship for students with a demonstrated interest in studying and practicing American Indian law. 

This scholarship is open to all students and the recipient will be awarded $2,500. 

To apply, applicants must submit the following: (1) documentation of your tribal affiliation and/or descent; (2) a personal statement (not to exceed 500 words) describing your commitment and ties to the Native American community; and (3) one letter of recommendation (the recommender may send their recommendation directly via email to lawadm@uw.edu) describing and appraising your involvement in the Native American community and dedication to principles that further the interests of the community. All application materials (including the letter of recommendation) must be submitted to William H. Gates Hall, Room 231 (Office of Admissions & Financial Aid) by 5:00PM PST on April 1, 2016.

Right to sexual and reproductive health indivisible from other human rights – UN experts

25-08-2011humanrightsGENEVA (8 March 2016) – The right to sexual and reproductive health is not only an integral part of the general right to health but fundamentally linked to the enjoyment of many other human rights, including the rights to education, work and equality, as well as the rights to life, privacy and freedom from torture, and individual autonomy, UN experts have said in an authoritative new legal commentary*.

Yet, the experts from the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) note, “the full enjoyment of the right to sexual and reproductive health remains a distant goal for millions of people, especially for women and girls, throughout the world.”

The commentary, adopted by CESCR’s 18 independent members, highlights the numerous legal, procedural, practical and social barriers people face in accessing sexual and reproductive health care and information, and the resulting human rights violations.

“For example, lack of emergency obstetric care services or denial of abortion often lead to maternal mortality and morbidity, which in turn constitutes a violation of the right to life or security, and in certain circumstances, can amount to torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” the experts say in their commentary.

The experts’ guidelines, known as a General Comment, concern Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which refers to the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

“As a Committee we have spoken before about the right to health, but we thought that given, for example, high maternal mortality rates around the world or harmful practices that women and girls especially go through, like female genital mutilation and early child marriage, it was important to specifically address the issue of sexual and reproductive health,” said Committee member Heisoo Shin.

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