Access to Justice Institute Garners National Award

The American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law selected Seattle Unemployment Insurance for Battered Women Project of the Access to Justice Institute for the 2006 Frances Perkins Public Service Award. The award recognizes “those who have gone above and beyond what could be expected of diligent attorneys in making legal services available to low-income clients.”

The program is headed by ATJI staff attorney Carrie Gargas. She will speak at the pro bono workshop and receive the award at the ABA’s national convention in Honolulu in August.

“The national recognition for this groundbreaking program is well-deserved,” School of Law Dean Kellye Testy said. “I congratulate Carrie, ATJI Director Sudha Shetty, the Access to Justice Institute and its community partners for their hard work in helping protect domestic violence victims and improve their lives.”

The Unemployment Insurance for Battered Women Project is maintained by ATJI in conjunction with the Unemployment Law Project, a nonprofit legal services organization in downtown Seattle. It was established to help ensure that victims of domestic violence or stalking are able to obtain unemployment insurance benefits in cases where they need to leave their jobs in order to protect themselves or an immediate family member. In these cases, unemployment insurance provides critical financial assistance to help victims escape further abuse.

The project and its volunteers represent DV and stalking victims in administrative hearings to determine their right to unemployment insurance benefits under Washington law. Project volunteers may also conduct client intake interviews, perform research on unemployment law and domestic violence/stalking issues, and assist in drafting appeals to be heard in state Superior Court. In addition, the Project conducts educational and outreach efforts to raise awareness of the rights of DV and stalking victims to receive unemployment insurance benefits under Washington law.

The Project is supported by a grant under the Legal Assistance to Victims grant program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.

For more information, contact Carrie Gargas at (206) 398.4172 or gargasc@seattleu.edu.