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Welcome to the Summer 2017 edition of Vision + Action: Inside The Institute, published quarterly by the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) and The Employee Rights Advocacy Institute For Law & Policy (The Institute). The Institute was established in 2008 as NELA's public interest organization to share NELA's mission and broaden our reach. The Institute advances employee rights through innovative legal strategies, policy development, grassroots advocacy, and public education. The Institute protects workers' access to the courts and promotes employee rights by influencing the broad, macro conversations that shape employment law. 
 
In This Issue:
VA1The Institute Launches New Project To Highlight The Faces Of Forced Arbitration

The Institute leads the fight against forced arbitration by employers, an insidious business practice which undermines our country's hard-won civil rights and employment laws. Forced arbitration shields businesses from public accountability for violating workers' rights by depriving millions of America's workers access to our nation's civil justice system as a condition of getting or keeping a job. Our goal is to raise awareness of the dangers of forced arbitration, protect employees, including immigrant, low wage, and other workers particularly vulnerable to unlawful employment practices, and ultimately end forced arbitration in the workplace.
 
We know that forced arbitration is more than a legal concept---- it hurts ordinary people trying to make a living every single day. This summer, The Institute will be launching a groundbreaking new effort, The Faces Of Forced Arbitration, to focus public attention on the human implications of forced arbitration. Serving as a platform for employees harmed by forced arbitration to have their voices heard, The Faces Of Forced Arbitration shares the stories of workers who have had to overcome the barrier of forced arbitration to access the public civil justice system. The first in a series to come, our debut will focus on how forced arbitration keeps sexual harassment a secret and leaves workers exposed. Anyone interested in the issue---- advocates, employees, policy makers, the press, and members of the general public---- will be able to delve into these personal accounts on The Institute's website, and read the accompanying fact sheet to learn more about the pervasive culture of sexual discrimination and harassment that arises when employers are allowed to use forced arbitration to suppress claims and silence workers.

Leading The Faces Of Forced Arbitration is The Institute's 2017 -- 2018 Paul H. Tobias Attorney Fellow Elizabeth Colman. If you are attending Be The Change, NELA's 2017 Annual Convention, in San Antonio on June 21 -- 24, please be sure to stop by The Institute's table to meet Elizabeth and find out more about how she is furthering The Institute's "Strategic Public Education Campaign To End Forced Arbitration Of Employment Claims."
VA2Join The Legacy Campaign To Advance The Institute's Future

This is a pivotal moment for The Institute and NELA. We are pleased to announce that The Institute is laying the groundwork to seed its own full-time Executive Director through a special fundraising initiative, "The Legacy Campaign To Advance The Institute's Future" (The Legacy Campaign). With its own Executive Director, The Institute can achieve greater organizational sustainability and expand its initiatives to promote employee rights, protect workers' access to the courts, and shape America's discourse on workplace law
on workplace law and policy. With civil and workers' rights gravely imperiled, The Institute is needed more than ever. We invite you to join us in this significant investment in the future of employee rights advocacy.
 
The Legacy Campaign is inspired by the vision, excellence, and integrity of Terisa E. Chaw, who is retiring as Executive Director of The Institute and NELA in July. Teri has served as NELA's Executive Director for 27 years and oversaw the founding of The Institute as NELA's charitable public interest arm in 2008. Teri has been our greatest champion of employee rights advocacy, and she has made a tremendous impact on the field of plaintiffs' employment law and the American workplace. Under her leadership, The Institute has become a powerful voice for employees. The Institute fosters the next generation of employee rights advocacy, ensures that a greater number of workers receive expert legal representation when they are unlawfully mistreated in the workplace, and is engaged in a civil rights battle to restore fairness and access to the courts for all employees. With the involvement of our community that cares deeply about workers' rights, The Institute has emerged as the nation's preeminent employee rights advocacy think tank, conducting research, developing resources, and educating judges, policy makers, and the general public about key issues facing workers.
 
Years prior to her retirement, Teri had sketched out a succession plan to position NELA and The Institute for a successful transition to new Executive Directors. Guided by an Executive Transition Committee, the NELA Executive Board and The Institute Board of Directors have taken the first major step in the plan by appointing Philip Arca as NELA and The Institute's Interim Executive Director. Philip has more than 20 years' experience leading nonprofit social justice organizations as an Executive Director and Interim Executive Director. In addition to maintaining our forward momentum, Philip will work with the Executive Transition Committee in the search for NELA's new Executive Director, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
 
Over its nine years, The Institute has built a solid foundation for transforming the American workplace and is excited to enhance its capacity to safeguard and defend workers' rights. The goal of The Legacy Campaign is to raise sufficient funds to hire The Institute's Executive Director in 2018, which coincides with The Institute's tenth anniversary. In honoring Teri's legacy, the greatest gift we can give her is a vital and enduring organization. Please consider a contribution of anywhere from $10 to $100 (or more) for each year of Teri's 27 years of incomparable service. By generously investing in The Institute at any level, you will build Teri's legacy and secure a future of equality and justice in the American workplace.
 
To join The Legacy Campaign, please download this pledge form or contact Leah A. Hofkin, The Institute and NELA's Director of Development (Tel: (415) 296-7629 ).
VA3Meet The Visionaries Of Employee Rights:
J. Gary Gwilliam ---- A Legacy Of Improving The Lives Of Other Lawyers

At The Institute and NELA, we take every opportunity we can to express our gratitude to our dedicated donors, who are part of a loyal and growing network of individuals, law firms, foundations, and others who generously provide The Institute with resources that enable us to pursue our mission. Through "Meet The Visionaries Of Employee Rights," a regular feature of Vision + Action: Inside The Institute , we learn more about the members of our community and why they care deeply about workers' rights.

Having recently celebrated his 80th birthday, J. Gary Gwilliam has a deep commitment to the practice of law and to other lawyers. He explains, "I was born to be lawyer. There is no other profession I could have done as successfully. Being a lawyer is fundamental to who I am."
 
Indeed, Gary has built an impressive 50-year plus career as a plaintiffs' lawyer in Oakland, California. He has tried more than 180 jury cases, including nearly 150 on behalf of individuals in a range of matters involving serious automobile and construction accidents, products liability, medical malpractice, bad faith insurance, civil rights (including police misconduct), wrongful termination, and employment discrimination and harassment. A longtime NELA member, Gary developed his concentration in employment law over the last 25 years. In discussing his practice now, Gary emphasizes that he is "still in the game." He exclaims, "I love to go to work every day. I love my partners and my employees, who are my family and my friends. And, I love the competition."
 
His journey to the law began with a "wild past," including being a
teenaged gang member, barely finishing high school, and facing substance abuse issues that would follow him into adulthood. No member of Gary's family, which was descended from nineteenth century Mormon pioneers, had attended college, let alone law school. Gary recounts his reaction when a professor at Pomona College, where Gary earned his B.A., suggested that he consider a career in the law. "My mind went blank. I had never even met a lawyer." Nevertheless, Gary followed his professor's advice and attended Berkeley Law School at the University of California (Boalt Hall). After a stint as a prosecutor in Ventura County, Gary returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to begin his work as a trial attorney.
 
Like most plaintiffs' employment lawyers, Gary is motivated by a sense of justice, and he appreciates the freedom to select his cases. "We're the good guys," he explains. "Our clients have been wronged---- they have been treated unjustly and unfairly. We fight for them, for what we believe in."
 
Beyond that, Gary is driven by a profound desire to help other lawyers and further the legal profession. "That is my legacy," he states. As noted, Gary struggled with substance abuse and other symptoms of the often tremendous stress of practicing law, including two failed marriages. Following a devastating loss in a jury trial, he embarked on a spiritual journey that transformed his life as he also became sober. All of this is openly recounted in his 2007 autobiography, Getting a Winning Verdict In My Personal Life: A Trial Lawyer Finds His Soul. As a mentor to other attorneys, Gary speaks frequently on substance abuse, stress reduction, and improving the quality of life, in addition to substantive legal topics related to his practice.
 
Gary serves the legal profession in other ways, including through active participation in such organizations as NELA, Public Justice, and the Consumer Attorneys of California. As a regular sponsor of NELA's Annual Gala Fundraiser and a member of The Institute's Visionary Circle, which recognizes donors who make an annual contribution to The Institute of $1,000 or more, Gary demonstrates his unwavering dedication to employee rights advocacy. His firm's "Vanguard" gift of $10,000 to "The Legacy Campaign To Advance The Institute Future" was inspired by Teri Chaw, who retires as Executive Director of The Institute and NELA after 27 years. Gary explains, "Teri's good work has had a positive impact on NELA and The Institute. Employment law has flourished thanks to her. My firm and I wanted to invest in Teri's legacy by guaranteeing a future for The Institute, an organization that we passionately support."
 
J. Gary Gwilliam is a highly regarded trial attorney in Oakland, California, a veteran of over 180 jury trials, of which almost 150 were plaintiff civil personal injury cases. He has handled major cases in every area of consumer law, and has recently concentrated more in employment law. Gary also is the author of the award-winning book,Getting a Winning Verdict in My Personal Life: A Trial Lawyer Finds His Soul , as well as numerous articles on California consumer law. A noted lecturer and motivational speaker, he has conducted workshops around California and the United States for many years. Gary is frequently called upon to serve as an expert witness on the standard of care for lawyers' conduct. He is a past president of Consumer Attorneys of California and Public Justice.
VA4Securing Your Legacy: The Many Ways To Support The Institute

With the launch of "The Legacy Campaign To Advance The Institute's Future," we are moving into an exciting time of growth and change for the organization. Teri Chaw's retirement has catalyzed our thinking about the legacy of everyone who is committed to advancing equality and justice in the American workplace. The Institute is privileged to be a part of a dedicated community of supporters who are securing their own legacies by generously investing their time, energy, and financial resources in The Institute.
 
As a tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, The Institute receives much of its valuable support through direct tax-deductible contributions of cash from individuals, families, and law firms. There are a number of other ways to have a lasting impact on workers' rights while gaining tax advantages for you and your family. We address two of them below: gifts of appreciated stock and Qualified Charitable Distributions. 

Gifts Of Appreciated Stock
Anyone can maximize a contribution to The Institute through gifts of stock that have appreciated in value. For this to be of maximum benefit to the donor, the donor should be itemizing deductions, and the stock must have been purchased more than one year before the date of the donation. The amount of the donation will be the fair market value of the stock on the date of the gift. The donor will pay no capital gains taxes on the increase in value and will receive a charitable deduction based on the fair market value of the donated stock.

The chart below shows the benefit of making a direct donation of appreciated stock to The Institute. The example is taken from a stock which cost the donor $2,000, and has now appreciated to a fair market value of $10,000.


Donate
Appreciated Stock
Donate
$10,000 cash
Sell Securities First & Donate Cash
Charitable Deduction
$10,000
$10,000
$10,000
Tax Savings
(35% rate)
$3,500
$3,500
$3,500
Capital Gains Tax
($8,000 gain)

$1,200 saved
N/A
$1,200 paid
Net Tax Savings
$4,700
$3,500
$2,300

Qualified Charitable Distributions
If you are 70½ years old, you are now required to take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from your 401(k) fund, your IRA(s), or both. But if you make charitable donations directly from the RMD, no taxable event occurs. In other words, take the same $10,000 in the chart above but use it as the RMD you must take in 2017. If that $10,000 is donated directly to The Institute, there is no tax at all to you as the donor. If, however, you were to take the RMD of $10,000, put it in the bank for a week, and then donate it to The Institute, you would have received the income and you would be taxed on it. So, for example, if you were in the 30% tax bracket, the $10,000 that you could have donated directly to The Institute would have been lowered to $7,000 because of the tax effect. This direct donation, that allows money that otherwise would have been taxed to become part of a donation, is called a Qualified Charitable Distribution. 

To explore these options for making a difference for employee rights further, we recommend that you consult your own financial and tax advisors for information specific to your situation and interests. The Institute does not provide legal or financial advice.

We extend our gratitude to NELA member Joseph D. Garrison of Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, PC for his invaluable assistance in preparing this article.

Visit our website for more information on the many ways to give to The Institute or contact Leah A. Hofkin, Director of Development (Tel: (415) 296-7629).
VA5Cultivating The Next Generation Of Employee Rights Advocacy: Introducing Ana Duong

The Institute is pleased to welcome our 2017 Employee Rights Advocacy Law Student Fellow, Ana Duong. Ana is a rising 2L at Berkeley Law. The daughter of Southeast Asian refugees from Vietnam, Ana is the first in her family to graduate college and to attend law school. Her past experience as a child garment worker inspired her to go to law school
and to advocate for employee rights. Ana is a Director for Berkeley Law's Workers' Rights Clinic, which hosts a free weekly clinic for community members who have employment-related legal issues. She also serves as a Co-Chair for the Coalition for Diversity, Social Chair for the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, and Submissions Editor for the Asian American Law Journal. Ana received the Berkeley Law Foundation's Phoenix Fellowship for her commitment to social justice, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund's Earl Warren Scholarship for her dedication to racial justice and outstanding potential for training as a civil rights and public interest attorney. Before law school, Ana earned simultaneous degrees in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies and Society and Environment from UC Berkeley.
VA6The Institute Receives Three Cy Pres Awards

We are delighted to announce that The Institute recently received three cy pres awards which we are using to fulfill The Institute's goals of promoting employee rights and protecting workers' access to the courts.
 
Two of the cases involved allegations that workers were cheated out of their wages by their employers who violated federal and state wage and hour laws. In Feiertag v. DDP Holdings, PLC d/b/a Apollo Retail Specialists, LLC, the plaintiffs were field employees who rendered  certain support services to retail providers that contracted with Apollo. Such services included construction work, assembly, installation, merchandising, service calls, and display set up services. The lawsuit claimed that Apollo improperly treated its field employees as exempt (ineligible for overtime pay) and, as such, did not pay them overtime for all of the hours they worked in excess of forty hours each week in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state law. The Institute received a cy pres award of $15,131.80 from the settlement in Feiertag, which was designated by Rachhana T. Srey and Brittany Bachman Skemp of Nichols Kaster, PLLP
in Minneapolis, Bruce H. Meizlish and Deborah R. Grayson of Meizlish & Greyson in Cincinnati, 
and David Blanchard of Blanchard &
Walker in Ann Arbor, MI.  
In Swigart v. Fifth Third Bank ,   another class action brought by Ms.  Srey, along with
her Nichols Kaster law partners,
Paul J. Lukas and Matthew H. Morgan, the plaintiffs were  mortgage loan officers who alleged that their employer failed to pay them for overtime under the FLSA. After the class members received compensation under the settlement, The Institute received a cy pres award of $249.33.
 
The Institute also was a cy pres beneficiary
in a case against Baker Hughes. The plaintiffs in that lawsuit were represented by Shanon J. Carson and Sarah Schalman-Bergen of Berger & Montague, PC in Philadelphia. The Institute received cy pres funds totaling $5,944.56.
 
Please join us in extending our heartfelt gratitude to the plaintiffs' attorneys in these cases, as well as their courageous clients. If you are interested in designating The Institute as a cy pres recipient, please contact Leah A. Hofkin, Director of Development (Tel: (415) 289-7629; Email: lhofkin@employeerightsadvocacy.org).
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