Karla M. Altmayer

  • Hosted by Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago
  • Sponsored by Kirkland & Ellis, Medtronic Foundation
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school Northern Illinois University - College of Law
  • Issue area Farmworkers, Women's Rights, Workers' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2012
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Karla empowered farmworker women who were victims of sexual harassment, violence, and gender discrimination in the agricultural industry through legal representation, education, policy advocacy, and collaboration with other organizations.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project

Every year, thousands of agricultural workers come to Illinois to harvest our fruits and vegetables. Knowing farmworkers have limited access to public benefits, education, and legal resources, employers often deny workers basic rights and fail to comply with labor requirements, including sexual harassment laws. As a result, farm-worker women are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation and discrimination in the workplace.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Karla:
• Provided 28 clients with full legal representation on issues such as unemployment, sexual harassment, and immigration
• Collaborated with 25 organizations across Illinois to provide legal and social services to farmworker women
• Established and led two coalitions in Illinois to train leaders in the farmworker women community on self-advocacy
• Co-authored a legal guide and curriculum to educate workers on workplace sexual violence; implemented the curriculum at all the worker centers in Chicago and Kankakee, Ill.
• Presented at the National Sexual Assault Conference on community outreach for survivors of workplace sexual violence
• Initiated a partnership with Northern Illinois University, College of Law to teach a farmworker course in spring 2013

Where are they now?

Karla is currently a Staff Attorney at the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights.

Meet Other Fellows Like Karla

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Monica Ramirez

Host: Florida Legal Services, Inc.

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Alyson Dimmitt Gnam

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Sponsor: Friends and Family of Philip M. Stern

Christine Tschiderer

Host: Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

Sponsor: Crowell & Moring LLP