Category Archive for: ‘Uncategorized’

Sexual Harassment at Berkeley

Rachel Lederman and Oakland Law Collaborative colleagues Kiran Prasad, Michael Flynn, Arabelle Malinas, Aliya Karmali and Gabriela Lopez are representing these brave UC Berkeley graduate students in their struggle to end sexual harassment on campus.

Katheen Gutierrez and Erin Bennett, Cal grad students who have accused assistant professor Blake Wentworth of harassment, 804are filing complaints with the state department of fair employment and housing  alleging they have been subject to discrimination, sexual harassment and a hostile and intimidating work environment.

In October, Geoffrey Marcy, a prominent UC Berkeley astronomer, resigned following reports that he avoided serious discipline after the school determined that he had repeatedly sexually harassed students.

In March, Sujit Choudhry, dean of UC Berkeley’s renowned law school, stepped down in the wake of faculty outrage that he was able to keep his job after the school substantiated sexual harassment allegations from his executive assistant.

Following other high-profile harassment controversies, the university last week released hundreds of pages of investigation records involving 19 employees found guilty of misconduct by the school’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD). The documents revealed that although 11 people resigned or were terminated, no faculty members were fired for sexual harassment.

Wentworth, a tenure-track assistant professor in the department of south and south-east Asian studies, was one faculty member who has avoided termination despite findings of misconduct.

More information here.

Claims filed re Berkeley #BlackLivesMatter protests

We have filed tort claims for fourteen people who were injured by the Berkeley Police and assisting agencies during December 6 and 7, 2014, demonstrations over the failures to indict the officers who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown. The tort claims are the first step toward bringing a lawsuit for an injunction to stop the police misconduct and monetary compensation for our clients. Our clients include a Chronicle photographer and a minister who were clubbed on the heads for no apparent reason; a 55 year old Berkeley Rent Board counselor who was clubbed in the back from behind while she was urging other demonstrators to give the police space; and a visitor from Los Angeles who happened on the demonstration and had been there for only minutes when he was shot with a “less lethal” munition, fracturing his knee. Rachel Lederman and Jim Chanin are representing the demonstrators and journalists on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild. Read the Mercury News article here.

Broken Windows or Broken Lives? Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s crackdown on protests is sure to fail.

Under pressure from businesses after a large May Day demonstration in which dozens of new cars and bank windows were smashed, Oakland’s new mayor, Libby Schaaf, has instituted a ban on nighttime street marches that has outraged the Oakland activist community. The mayor’s directive violates a federal court order, and has escalated ongoing tension between police and protesters — while doing nothing to address the serious issues of state-sponsored racism, extrajudicial killings, and police impunity that are at the heart of the growing national movement.

Read Rachel Lederman’s opinion piece in the East Bay Express.

Settlement for OPD harassive ticketing

We obtained a $9,500 settlement for Jacob Crawford, an investigative videojournalist and copwatcher, for his unlawful detention and citation by the Oakland Police on July 19, 2013. Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent had just instituted a policy of ticketing persons going to and from demonstrations for pedestrian and bicycle violations. Chief Whent and Mayor Quan claimed this ongoing policy was intended to deter vandalism and other serious unlawful activity, by openly gathering personal information on persons who attend protests, but the persons who have been ticketed are simply demonstrators and journalists, whose First Amendment activity is being chilled by the selective traffic enforcement. In Jacob’s case he was lawfully filming the police and asking their identities as a rally protesting George Zimmerman’s acquittal for killing Trayvon Martin was beginning, when Sgt. Darrin Downum detained Jacob and gave him a ticket for jaywalking. The ticket was completely unfounded and was thrown out in court. Jacob now works with Rachel full time as an investigator and paralegal.

Read the Courthouse News article.

New Oakland office!

We have a new, second office in downtown Oakland, near 19th St. BART. We are part of the newly formed Oakland Law Collaborative of five law firms providing social justice oriented legal services in multiple practice areas. Our main office is still in San Francisco in the National Lawyers Guild / San Francisco Tenants Union building on Capp Street.

Rachel Lederman second highest in Oakland Police settlements in 2013

Top 20 legal expenses for the Police Department, 2013.