Pooja Dadhania

The Project

Pooja advocated for survivors of domestic and gender-based violence, such as forced marriage and honor-based violence, through direct legal representation, outreach, and education, with a focus on the South Asian community.

There is a great need, for dedicated representation and coordinated outreach to assist survivors of domestic and gender-based violence, especially survivors of forced marriage and honor-based violence in Los Angeles. Such survivors, especially South Asian survivors, are a vulnerable and isolated group as language and cultural barriers often prevent them from seeking assistance. Many survivors fail to take advantage of support services because domestic violence is viewed is a “family matter,” and family members may blame them for bringing shame to the family if they seek outside help. Therefore, it is essential to break through this isolation to reach them. Holistic advocacy and outreach are essential to support these survivors by enabling them to escape violence and gain the independence necessary to build their lives in safety in the United States.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Pooja has:

  • Provided holistic legal services, focusing on immigration and family law, to over 165 clients.
  • Provided full-scope immigration and/or family law representation, to over 50 of those clients.
  • Created and expanded referral systems with South Asian community-based organizations and domestic violence shelters to connect survivors of domestic violence and gender-based violence to Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’s services.
  • Developed training materials, and conducted outreach and training on forced marriage to over 120 advocates and service providers in the Los Angeles area to enable them to identify and assist forced marriage survivors.

Where are they now?

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Pooja plans to be a Clinical Teaching Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center’s Center for Applied Legal Studies, an asylum clinic. As a teaching fellow, Pooja will teach classes and supervise students in their representation of asylum seekers.

Many survivors of domestic and gender-based violence fail to take advantage of support services because domestic violence is viewed is a “family matter".

The Project

Andrea sought to eliminate barriers to economic security for low wage women of color in California by enforcing equal pay laws and using legal advocacy and community outreach to expand their access to high-wage jobs.

California women lose more than $78.6 billion a year to the gender wage gap. For women of color, the wage gap in California is much worse: $0.53 for black women and $0.43 for Latinas. Apprenticeships are the leading entry point into higher-paying construction jobs, but fewer than 6 percent of apprentices are women. Ensuring equal access to apprenticeships requires increased attention to improving conditions on the job, as 40 percent of tradeswomen face sexual harassment or discrimination that causes them to quit

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Andrea has:

  • Conducted outreach around the Fair Pay Act to over 400 individuals and organizations;
  • Provided brief advice to 150 female workers;
  • Provided pre-litigation representation to five women; one case settled, the rest are pending;
  • Collaborated with a pre-apprenticeship program to provide sexual harassment training to pre-apprentices;
  • Conducted more than 30 community and partner-focused workshops, webinars, and presentations on equal pay and harassment, directly reaching more than 600 individuals;
  • Collaborated with over 20 community groups to conduct targeted outreach to women of color seeking legal assistance;
  • Prepared know your rights materials and tip sheets on fair pay, sexual harassment, and pregnancy discrimination

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Andrea plans to:

  • Continue fighting for low-wage and marginalized workers as an Associate at Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman, & Wasow;
  • Volunteer as a supervising attorney at the Berkeley Law Workers’ Rights Clinic;
  • Remain involved in the public interest legal community.