Aaron Voit

  • Hosted by California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, PG&E Corporation
  • Service location Oakland, California
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
  • Issue area Environmental Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Create a Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) to improve health and remediate disproportionate exposure to agricultural pollution in farmworker communities in California’s Salinas Valley.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project

In most of the country, families can drink tap water, children can play outside, and workers can earn a living without worrying that those activities will make them sick. In the Salinas Valley, residents cannot participate in these everyday activities without jeopardizing their health. Agricultural pollution stemming from the use of pesticides and fertilizers exposes entire communities to toxins capable of causing cancer, infertility and birth defects, and developmental delays. Aaron’s Fellowship serves the farmworkers, children, and families who sacrifice their health to put food on our plates.

Highlights to Date

In the first year, Aaron has:

  • Started a MLP with the Monterey County Health Department and developed and circulated promotional materials about MLP;
  • Provided brief legal services to more than 150 patients with health-harming legal needs through MLP and walk-ins;
  • Fully-represented five clients, helping clients recover stolen wages, improve living conditions at their dwelling, and win insurance coverage for medical expenses;
  • Assisted with one high-impact litigation which successfully challenged a regulation that disproportionately exposed rural communities of color to the pesticide Telone;
  • Conducted trainings for approximately 200 healthcare providers with the goal of helping pregnant farmworker women access disability insurance; increased awareness about disability insurance would give farmworker women the choice to stop working earlier in pregnancy and reduce harmful pesticide exposures for them and their unborn children.

What’s Next

In the next year, Aaron plans to:

  • Provide brief legal services to an additional 150 patients with health-harming legal needs;
  • Continue to improve integrated medical-legal services for pregnant farmworker women, such as workshops to educate families about job-protected leave, wage replacement programs, and reasonable accommodations;
  • Create guide for representing clients exposed to pesticides;
  • Increase outreach to farmworker women of reproductive age;
  • Secure funding and partnerships for a pesticide biomonitoring program at Health Department clinic.

Meet Other Fellows Like Aaron

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Wendy Radcliff

Host: Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment

Sponsor: Friends and Family of Philip M. Stern

Jeanne Zokovitch

Host: Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, The Florida Bar Foundation

Derek Teaney

Host: Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment

Sponsor: Friends and Family of Philip M. Stern

Laurel Firestone

Laurel Firestone

Host: The Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment

Sponsor: Equal Justice Works