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Law Clinic receives grant from Foundation for Louisiana

Loyola press release - December 16, 2011

The Workplace Justice Project in the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice in Loyola University New Orleans’ College of Law is the recipient of a $50,000 grant that will be used to address employer wage theft in Louisiana.

The College of Law was awarded the grant by the Foundation for Louisiana, which recently awarded $843,000 to support 22 organizations working in communities throughout the state to ensure that more Louisianans have safe access to affordable housing, opportunities to earn a decent living, and a voice in decisions that affect their futures. Foundation for Louisiana grants are supporting projects in Shreveport, New Orleans, Monroe, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge and dozens of rural communities throughout the state. This is the first year the foundation has awarded grants.

An influx of immigrants and low-wage workers moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help with rebuilding efforts. Many have been the victims of wage theft, and the clinic will use the grant money to help draft a proposed expansion to the current state wage lien law, which will help their clients legally and successfully receive money owed to them.

“This is a very directed grant that will be a major stepping stone in preparing legislation in Louisiana that will assist employees with unpaid wages. The current lien laws are only available to those working in construction,” said WJP Director Luz Molina, the Jack Nelson Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola. “We will work with lawmakers to shape the requirements to better serve other areas of the workforce, including restaurants, landscape companies and even musicians.”

The clinic, which has recovered more than $500,000 in lost wages since 2005, allows third-year law students the opportunity to represent indigent clients under the supervision of experienced attorneys. By participating, student practitioners not only have the chance to experience firsthand what it’s like to represent clients, but they also have an opportunity to further the Jesuit ideals of scholarship and service at Loyola by providing legal representation to the needy.

“These grants exemplify Foundation for Louisiana’s mission to build resilience in the state’s most vulnerable communities. They also honor the legacy of the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation and the vision its founders had for addressing the long-term challenges of poverty, disinvestment and inequity in our state,” said Foundation for Louisiana President and CEO Flozell Daniels Jr.

For more information on the grant or the clinic, contact Molina at 504-861-5598 or molina@loyno.edu.