SAN FRANCISCO, May 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The California-based Foundation for Advocacy Inclusion and Resources (FAIR) today announced selection of the first Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellow in partnership with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC) and Sanford Heisler LLP, a leading national public interest law firm.
Giselle N. Olmedo, a 2013 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, bested a talented pool of applicants to earn the 2014 Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellowship.
"Giselle is precisely the lawyer we had in mind in establishing the Fellowship," said Felicia Medina, the Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler's San Francisco office. "She has an exemplary academic record, as well as a strong history of service as a community volunteer and employee in organizations protecting the public interest. Her commitment to tackling the toughest cases of discrimination and injustice is already strong. We are confident that Giselle's experiences as a Fellow will strengthen her skills and dedication to the clients served by the plaintiff's bar. It is an honor to join FAIR and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center in announcing her selection as our first Fellowship recipient."
Olmedo graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.S. in biology and a B.A. in criminal justice. As an undergraduate, she worked with organizations that were expanding health care to low-income families and fighting for women's rights. "After graduating, I continued working with disadvantaged communities, including at-risk youth at San Francisco's Juvenile Hall and victims of domestic violence and stalking at the San Francisco District Attorney's office," Olmedo said. "These experiences ignited my passion for public interest law and fueled my decision to enter law school."
As a law student, Olmedo worked at the California Asylum Representation Clinic and East Bay Community Law Center, helping clients with small claims, debt defense and homelessness. She is currently a Bridge Fellow at LAS-ELC working in the Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program.
"My parents grew up in a small village in El Salvador. Their resilience in coming to the United States to work hard to provide my siblings and me the education and opportunities they never had, contributed to my desire to promote the welfare of disadvantaged communities in my work," Olmedo said. "I look forward to using my legal education, community work connections and the knowledge and skills I will gain as a Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellow to make a real difference in the lives of people struggling to overcome significant challenges every day."
FAIR will provide Olmedo's salary and benefits during the year-long Fellowship period, which is comprised of two consecutive six-month terms, based upon a grant received from Sanford Heisler. Olmedo will spend the first half of her Fellowship at the LAS-ELC and the second at a firm affiliated with the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), an organization of more than 1,000 workers' rights advocates statewide.
"We congratulate Giselle on being awarded the Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellowship so that she can continue on her path to seek justice for underserved and underrepresented communities," said Joan Graff, LAS-ELC President. "During her time as a Bridge Fellow at LAS-ELC, Giselle has demonstrated a deep dedication to protecting the rights of low-income workers. And we are thrilled that she will be able to assist our clients while building upon her skills as a lawyer dedicated to enforcing workplace laws for those who are least able to assert their rights. We are also honored to be partnering with FAIR and Sanford Heisler on this innovative and meaningful initiative."
Bryan Schwartz, of Bryan Schwartz Law, President of FAIR, said, "The plaintiffs' employment law Bar will gain another strong lawyer because of Sanford Heisler's generosity and the apprenticeship at LAS-ELC. We are proud to partner with this exemplary firm and the leading non-profit representing low-wage workers in the development of this creative fellowship opportunity. Giselle's service as a Fellow will bolster our ability to represent underserved communities not only in the year ahead, but throughout her career."
For more information about the Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellowship and the 2014 selection cycle, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAS-ELC, founded in 1916, protects the rights and economic self-sufficiency of working poor people by providing a wide range of free legal services and by engaging in policy advocacy, public education, and technical assistance on behalf of low-income workers and their communities. LAS-ELC addresses the full spectrum of employment-related issues for its clients, such as unpaid wages; denial of family and medical leave; denial of disability accommodations; and discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, immigration status, language, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
FAIR is a California non-profit created by CELA leaders in 2010 to increase diversity in the plaintiffs' employment Bar and to raise public consciousness about workers' rights.
Sanford Heisler is a national public law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco that specializes in employment discrimination, wage and hour, qui tam, and consumer class action litigation. The firm has represented thousands of individuals in major class action cases in the United States. Sanford Heisler also represents individual clients in employment discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower, public accommodations, commercial, medical malpractice, and personal injury matters. In May 2010, the firm won the largest jury award in the U.S. in a gender discrimination employment class action when a jury returned a verdict of $253 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. In 2012, the firm won court approval to settle a wage and hour case on behalf of sales representatives employed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals for $99 million.
For more information about the award, contact Sanford Heisler at (202) 742-7777.
For more information, media contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, 201-493-1027, Jamie@newspros.com
SOURCE Sanford Heisler LLP