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2002 July - August

The Power-One Campaign

Immigrant Worker Empowerment Through Law and Organizing

By Cynthia Mark & Evonne Yang

A spontaneous work stoppage by a group of immigrant factory workers facing layoff grew into a campaign that not only won employer concession on some of the workers' immediate complaints but also brought federal and state funding commitments for English classes, skills training, and other services for the dislocated workers. The collaboration among legal services, a community-based organization, and organized labor helped the workers achieve concrete immediate benefits and knowledge and skills that will prepare them for a better future.

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Growing Immigrant Communities Face Increased Employment Discrimination

By Marielena Hincapié

Concerns about security, mistrust of immigrants, and suspicions regarding the reliability of immigration documents since the tragic events of September 11 have affected the workplace, where immigrants and citizens of different ethnicities and national origins, particularly those perceived to be Middle Eastern or South Asian, increasingly are subject to discrimination. Immigrant workers and their legal advocates need to understand the pressing workplace issues that low-wage immigrant workers face, the legal protections available against immigration-related and national-origin employment discrimination, and special considerations for undocumented workers alleging employment discrimination.

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The Hollman Case

Challenging Racial Segregation in Federal Housing Programs

By Timothy L. Thompson

For many years, the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis represented dissatisfied clients in the racially segregated and physically deteriorated north Minneapolis public housing projects. In 1991, legal aid attorneys stopped to ask themselves whether the circumstances of their clients' living situations were inevitable. That question led to a year-long work plan, the filing of a federal court class action against five governmental agencies, a more than $100 million consent decree, and, a decade later, some hopeful answers to that question.

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Using the Fair Housing Act and the RICO Act to Combat Predatory Lending

By Webb A. Brewer

Predatory mortgage lending is running rampant in the African American community. It is a threat to the economic stability of the lower middle class (working Poor and fixed-income seniors). Innovative legal services attorneys have responded to this crisis by pursuing race discrimination housing suits against lenders under the federal Fair Housing Act and brought claims under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

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Financing Fair Driving

Race Discrimination in Retail Car Loans

By Stuart T. Rossman

In 1991, a ground-breaking study discovered that women and minorities suffer purchase-price discrimination when buying new cars. Extending the theory established by that study, African American plaintiffs recently began using the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to challenge interest-rate markup policies that have created parallel finance-charge discrimination at the back end of automobile sale transactions.

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Race-Based Lawyering

Engaging Minority Communities in Legal Need Assessments

By Francisca D. Fajana

Given the dramatic growth in minority populations, their numbers in poverty, and the racial and ethnic inequalities they still endure, legal services advocates need to be more strategic in their assessments of community needs and more responsive to the particular legal needs of all constituents. The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute's Minority Rights Project conducted legal need assessments in which it engaged minority communities to learn more about their legal needs; the project now is addressing the legal needs identified.

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Not Separate but Still Unequal

Racial and Ethnic Disaparities in Health Care

By Erica R. Berry

Despite a decline in overt discrimination, racial and ethnic minorities continue to experience disparities in all aspects of the U.S. health care delivery system, including access to services, treatment options, health status, and treatment outcomes. Recognizing why these issues are not effectively addressed, legal services advocates can avail of methods to identify health care discrimination and strategies for confronting and overcoming racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

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