October was an exciting month for Public Justice. From covering the #EDActNow campaign at the U.S. Department of Education to attending the 2021 Mass Torts Made Perfect Seminar in Las Vegas, we were lucky to have had several opportunities to venture out into the world as part of our work in strengthening our partnerships and impact.

This month, we also:
  • Welcomed several new staff members to our growing team,
  • Launched our inaugural podcast JusticePod,
  • Celebrated the confirmations of Rohit Chopra as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director and Catherine Lhamon to lead the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights,
  • And continued our work in fighting against corporations' use of forced arbitration (more details below!)
Finally, we're honored to share the above video, which debuted during the MTMP Seminar. This short documentary features our case against LaSalle Management, in which we serve as appellate co-counsel on behalf of the surviving family members of Erie Moore, who was beaten to death by guards at a for-profit prison in Louisiana.

Winning this appeal won’t bring back Erie Moore, but it will bring some measure of justice to his grieving family–and help to shine a spotlight on the terrible human rights abuses in the private prison industry.

The video also includes a case that's part of our Debtors' Prison Project, illustrating how we're working to keep the courthouse doors open for everyone. View the full video by clicking the play button above or visiting our YouTube channel
This month consisted of several notable case wins, advocacy updates, news coverage, and more. Here are some of our biggest highlights:
We launched our inaugural podcast JusticePod, which will feature various guests who will provide insights on developments in the courts, legislatures, regulatory agencies, and in corporate America. The first episode features a behind-the-scenes look at the Hardeman v. Monsanto Roundup litigation and appeal, in which our Senior Attorney Leslie Brueckner joins Wagstaff Law Firm's David J. Wool to discuss the details of the case and what it was like in the courtroom when the Hardeman family heard the verdict. Listen to the first episode here.
Our Food Project's lawsuit against the USDA on behalf of R-CALF USA, the nation's largest organization of independent cattle producers, can now proceed!

Our lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the use of checkoff funds by private state beef councils to fund speech harmful to independent, domestic producers. Learn more about our lawsuit here.
Our 2021 Summer Communications Intern Andrew Fernandez published a blog post on our efforts to preserve class actions, including an explainer on why corporations are so desperate to fight them.

"We believe the fight to preserve class actions is a fight between profit and justice [...] Class actions have invoked the ire of corporate interests because they are effective at holding corporations accountable," writes Fernandez. Read the full blog here.
Our case on behalf of Minnesota students of color who have been subjected to repeated discrimination and racism from their school peers and teachers was recently covered by NBC BLK and CNN.

Our lawsuit with Nichols Kaster seeks to hold Duluth Edison Charter Schools accountable for subjecting Black and biracial students to a discriminatory and hostile education environment based on their race.

“The white harassers received little to no punishment [and] Black and biracial students are punished more harshly and more regularly than their white peers," Public Justice wrote in describing the injustice.

Learn more about our fight to protect students of color in Minnesota on our case page here.
As part of our work in advocating for students' rights, we took part in Know Your IX's Ed Act Now campaign, urging the U.S. Department of Education to swiftly undo the Trump Administration's Title IX regulations by October 2021 instead of waiting until next year.

This month, we joined our allies at Know Your IX, End Rape on Campus, National Women's Law Center, Every Voice Coalition, It's On Us, Equal Rights Advocates, and Girls' Inc. to deliver in-person more than 50,000 signatures to the U.S. Department of Education. Following a meeting with Ed Department representatives, we heard from student survivors and leaders on the urgency for the department to act.
"[Former Secretary] DeVos rolled back Title IX protections that have been in place for decades, dramatically reducing school's obligation to respond to harassment and discouraging students from reporting harassment by creating a hostile, burdensome, and unfair process," NWLC's Shiwali Patel told press conference attendees.

Students can't wait any longer. To learn more about the campaign and how to take action, visit Know Your IX's webpage.
Recently, efforts to stop forced arbitration have made headlines. In early October, a jury awarded a rare verdict against Tesla to Owen Diaz, a former employee who faced years of discrimination and racism at work. Experts including our Executive Director Paul Bland weighed in on the extraordinary verdict, connecting Diaz's case to the fact he didn't sign a forced arbitration agreement.

"The evidence in the case showed an extremely terrible workplace, but the widespread use of arbitration at Tesla could limit such cases from moving forward in the future," Bland told Bloomberg Law. “Jury trials and class actions really discourage race discrimination in employment,” Bland said. “If employers know they could be held accountable to a jury they would be much more careful and train employees in more effective ways.”
Bland also spoke with American Prospect on the issue of forced arbitration, how companies are beginning to drop these harmful clauses, and why access to the courts must be made available for all, regardless of the issue: "'What you saw from Silicon Valley is them saying, ‘OK, here’s an issue that when people find out, they have a strong moral reaction, so let’s carve that out.' In the meantime, most discrimination cases over unequal pay, racism, and other egregious practices continue to be filed confidentially and heard in private."

Additionally, our Access to Justice & Justice Catalyst Fellow Anita Yandle recently wrote a blog post about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's latest attempt to preserve forced arbitration at the expense of the rights and safety of workers in California. Thankfully, a Ninth Circuit ruling upheld the California law that ensures consent in employment contracts, signaling hope for survivors everywhere.

"While people can legally waive certain rights in certain circumstances, doing so must truly be consensual," writes Yandle. "This includes the right to settle disputes in court."

Learn more about our Access to Justice work, including ending forced arbitration, here.
This month, Public Justice traveled to Las Vegas for the 2021 Mass Torts Made Perfect (MTMP) conference! We hosted an exhibit booth in a prime location and were honored to be the featured nonprofit at MTMP’s Awards Luncheon, during which we premiered our video, which you can watch here.

Special thanks to Public Justice Board Member Virginia Buchanan and the team at Levin Papantonio for orchestrating our presence at MTMP and supporting us throughout the event. We were delighted to have many Public Justice members stop by our booth to visit with our staff and leadership.

Interested in having Public Justice participate in an upcoming event or speak at an educational presentation in your community? We’d love to join you! Contact Kelly Simon at ksimon@publicjustice.net or (202) 861-5253 for more information.
Public Justice welcomes this month's new members your unwavering commitment to our mission to combat injustice helps us reach our goals.

Questions? Contact us at memberservices@publicjustice.net.