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Center on Latino and Latina Rights & Equality Debuts at CUNY Law; First Center of its Type in the World

October 28, 2008

CUNY School of Law announces the opening of the new Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality (CLORE) to focus on legal issues impacting the Latino community in the United States, including women’s rights, educational equity, employment discrimination, voting rights, and immigrants’ rights, among others.

The Center is believed to be the only law school-based Center in the world that seeks to develop and expand scholarship and litigation strategies, focusing specifically on Latinos and Latinas, with input from community-based organizations and advocates.

The Center’s goal is to develop progressive strategies for legal reform. The Center seeks to educate lawyers, law students, scholars and the general public on the status of Latinos and Latinas, as well as to advocate for expanded civil rights in the areas that affect the growing Latino population.

The Center will host events, create bibliographies, sponsor forums, and develop courses that highlight access to the legal system and explore issues affecting the Latino community. The Center will also pursue civil rights litigation opportunities and work to increase the involvement of the private bar in matters positively affecting the Latino community.

Cases involving discrimination based on national origin cry out for justice and fairness, according to Center Director Jenny Rivera. “Employment discrimination and the abuse of Latino and Latina employees who are essential to so many businesses are a daily reality,” she said. “On the one hand, companies seeking to profit from the Latino community benefit from Latino and Latina workers because they want Latino business and need low-wage employees. On the other hand, they often make working life miserable for their Latino and Latina employees, and put them at risk for termination. This discrimination and abuse must be stopped.”

Advocates Support CLORE
Advocates in the Latino legal community agree that a center like CLORE is needed. “Too many of us in the law see the civil rights struggle as something in the past. The fact is that the Latino community is facing its own set of civil rights issues that need the attention of a Center such as this one now,” said Cesar A. Perales, president and general counsel of Latino Justice/PRLDEF, formerly the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York. “Under Jenny’s leadership the Center will undoubtedly make a major contribution to the field of Latino civil rights.”

The Center has two dynamic projects that focus on full equality under the law: the Language Access Project, which addresses national origin and ethnicity discrimination based on language; and the Gender Equity Project, which develops legal strategies to eliminate gender-based discrimination and its effects on the Latino community. The Law School’s library will be the repository for the Center’s Special Collection on Latinos/Latinas and the Law.

The Center will bring together scholars and advocates for discussions and strategic planning, while making available its growing archives on Latino/Latina rights to the legal community, activists, elected officials and others in the strongest position to help Latinos and Latinas improve their position in the United States and world society.

Professor Rivera’s Background
Rivera, who holds a B.A. from Princeton University, a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and an LL.M. from Columbia University School of Law, formerly clerked in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the Pro Se Law Clerk’s Office. She then joined the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Family Rights Project, and that was followed by a position as Associate Counsel for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. She also clerked in the Southern District of New York for Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who currently sits on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rivera most recently served as the Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights in the New York State Attorney General’s Office. And she has served on the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Rivera was honored in 2007 with the President’s Medal from the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and was honored by Hispanic Business as one of the Elite Women of 2005 by El Diario/La Prensa as an Outstanding Latina Woman. She also has been honored by the Manhattan Borough President and the New York City Chapter of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women.

More about CLORE and Professor Jenny Rivera:

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CUNY School of Law is the premier public interest law school in the country. It trains lawyers to serve the underprivileged and disempowered and to make a difference in their communities. The school has been praised in a study by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, “Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law,” for being one of the few law schools in the country to prepare students for practice through instruction in theory, skills, and ethics. The school is based in Flushing, Queens, New York.

Contacts:
Emily Sachar
Director of Communications
718-340-4530, office
718-644-5789, cell
emily.sachar@mail.law.cuny.edu

Professor Jenny Rivera
Director of Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality (CLORE)
718-340-4304, office
rivera@mail.law.cuny.edu

 

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