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

Aaron created a medical-legal partnership (MLP) with the Monterey County Health Department in California’s Salinas Valley, providing free legal services to farmworkers, students, tenants, and families—with a focus on pesticide exposure, pregnant and disabled farmworkers, and the LGBTQ+ community.

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 activities without encountering agricultural pollution like pesticide exposure and drinking water contamination, substandard housing, and rampant pregnancy and disability discrimination in farmwork. By creating an MLP, this Fellowship takes new approaches to these longstanding issues in an effort to serve the farmworkers, children, and families who sacrifice their health to put food on our plates.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Aaron has:

  • Provided legal services to more than 325 farmworkers, students, tenants, and families through MLP and limited walk-in clients—securing clients more than $230,000, helping remove bed bugs and mold from homes, securing reasonable accommodations and medical leave for disabled workers, increasing school-based services for special needs students, and connecting victims of intimate partner violence to immigration services
  • Served as lead CRLA attorney on case that successfully challenged regulations that disproportionately expose rural communities of color to Telone, a cancer-causing pesticide
  • Reduced exposure of pregnant farmworker women to pesticides known to cause reproductive harm by improving access to a state program that provides replacement income, and worked with statewide coalition to challenge denials and win approval from the state agency that administers the program
  • Secured funding from Monterey County to continue and expand the Monterey County Medical-Legal Partnership, including hiring two additional MLP attorneys and bringing MLP services to more patients at the Monterey County Health Department safety net clinics

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Aaron plans to assume a managing role with the growing Monterey County Medical-Legal Partnership, which he securing funding for, continuing to serve Salinas Valley farmworkers and families with health-harming legal needs, expanding services to address pesticide exposure and drinking water contamination, and strengthening additional focus area services for the LGBTQ+ community and H2A Temporary Agricultural Workers.

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