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Photo of Dave McKenna

Dave McKenna

  • Hosted by Greater Boston Legal Services
  • Sponsored by Biogen, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
  • Service location Boston, Massachusetts
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations, Workers' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Dave (he/him) advocated at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) for low wage workers in the Boston area to increase health and safety at work through direct legal services, community education, and policy advocacy.

No one should have to choose between losing income and protecting their health. But low-wage workers are often fired or get their hours cut for asserting their rights to paid sick leave or safe and healthy working conditions. As a result, poor health outcomes and high unemployment are concentrated in the working-class neighborhoods that make Massachusetts run.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Dave:

  • Trained over 425 workers and advocates about sick time and paid medical leave rights
  • Won settlements totaling $119,000 for unpaid sick time and wrongful termination of 27 workers
  • Won $50,000 in unemployment benefits for seven wrongly terminated workers
  • Obtained $260,000 in Paid Family Medical Leave benefits for 34 workers with serious health conditions
  • Expanded eligibility for Paid Family Medical Leave benefits to thousands of undocumented workers through individual appeals, legal research, and advocacy with the state agency
  • Submitted proposed regulatory changes to the Department of Family and Medical Leave to improve appeal rights for late applicants and wrongfully denied applicants
  • Started a new community partnership for GBLS Employment Law Unit to reach more immigrant workers
  • Developed model demand letters for community partners to use for paid sick leave and hold workshops
  • Continued systemic advocacy on worker health in new state legislative cycle, to expand paid sick leave, paid medical leave, and improve accessibility of these benefits


Massachusetts Businesses Not Following COVID-19 Sick Time Program, Workers and Advocates Say

Eight from Harvard Law named Equal Justice Works Fellows

The pandemic demonstrates that all of our lives are connected, and those who put profit over people imperil everyone.

Dave McKenna /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Dave

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Gonzalo Serrano

Host: Equal Justice Center

Sponsor: Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Photo of Laura Huizar

Laura Huizar

Host: LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Sponsor: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

Yihong (Julie) Mao

Host: New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice

Sponsor: Friends and Family of Philip M. Stern

Tiffany Mercado

Sponsor: Anonymous