Dave McKenna

The Project

Dave (he/him/his) will advocate for safe and healthy workplaces for low-wage workers in Greater Boston through direct legal services, community education and outreach, 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. They are pressured to skip doctors’ appointments for themselves and their children to avoid missing work. Some employers even contest eligibility for unemployment benefits where workers have refused to work in unsafe conditions. As a result, poor health outcomes and high unemployment are concentrated in the working-class neighborhoods that make our state run. 

Fellowship Plans

To support workers in accessing their rights, Dave will partner with community organizations to run a know-your-rights campaign for paid sick leave and safe working conditions. Dave will represent workers in retaliation, unemployment, and wage theft claims related to unsafe working conditions and paid sick leave. Finally, Dave will collaborate with worker centers on legislative advocacy to expand the right to paid sick leave to more workers and to expand enforcement by the state. 

Media

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

The Project

Tara aims to make accessible and affordable childcare for low-income people in Massachusetts a reality through direct representation, community outreach, and systemic advocacy.

Cost makes childcare inaccessible to most low-income people in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, newly developed regulations of childcare subsidies and vouchers make affordable childcare largely inaccessible. This also makes the benefits of affordable childcare, including mitigating the impact of toxic stress and increasing access to work, education, and healthcare, inaccessible. Tara will work to reform existing and newly implemented state agency policies and practices to recognize the rights of low-income Massachusetts residents and to secure increased access to affordable childcare.

Access to childcare can help disrupt intergenerational poverty by increasing opportunity and improving the health and well-being of parents, guardians and children. Tara believes that policies and programs should be guided by the lived experience of low-income persons, and she aims to ensure that their voices are elevated in the development of childcare regulations.

Fellowship Plans

Tara will provide representation to individuals who have been unfairly denied or terminated from childcare subsidies and vouchers. Tara will work with community and grassroots organizations to identify individuals who need representation and to ensure that low-income Massachusetts residents are aware of their rights in the applications process and once they have attained childcare assistance. After having engaged in community outreach and individual representation, Tara will work to make necessary changes to the law to combat structural barriers to accessing affordable childcare.

Childcare is a vital tool to mitigate the causes and consequences of poverty. The provision of this resource should not just be a formalistic benefit but an actual, accessible resource.

Tara Wilson /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Jessica provided advocacy and representation to ensure that people with disabilities had access to integrated and respectful health care in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Despite both federal and state laws mandating equal access to health care, people with disabilities (PWD) frequently face significant barriers to receiving adequate medical care. Some barriers are physical barriers, including a lack of adaptive medical equipment, such as examination tables and chairs, weight scales, radiological equipment, and mammography equipment. Other equally significant barriers include attitudes of healthcare workers who possess negative stereotypes about disability or simply have not received training to ensure that PWD have access to appropriate and culturally competent care. These barriers often result in drastically inferior medical care for PWD.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two year, Jessica has:

  • Represented 10 PWD and provided advice, counsel, and referrals to an additional 30 PWD to ensure access to medical care
  • Gathered over 100 stories of PWD and affidavits as part of a system effort to improve MassHealth’s non-emergency medical transportation system
  • Participated in 3 impact litigation cases to ensure that PWD have access to appropriate medical care, accessible medical equipment, and non-emergency medical transportation
  • Presented 15 workshops at the Boston Center for Independent Living

What’s Next

Now that her Fellowship is complete, Jessica plans to continue working on this vital project at Boston Center for Independent Living.