What is the Legal Advice & Counseling Program?
Please note: As of October 2019, our Advice & Counseling Program is unable to help with new inquiries related to employment and gender-based discrimination, workplace sexual harassment, or workplace sexual assault.
Due to our current employment rights caseload, we cannot responsibly accept new employment clients for advice and counseling. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
Our education rights team is still able to help with new inquiries related to sexual harassment and assault at school, as well as discrimination and harassment experienced by LGBTQI+ students. Scroll below to learn more about that process.
The freeze on assisting with new employment-related inquiries is temporary, and we will reopen our employment intakes in a few months. In the meantime, please find a list of recommended organizations in our “What we can help with” section below.
Historically, our Legal Advice & Counseling Program offers free legal help to people who have experienced or are currently experiencing gender discrimination at school or work, including pregnancy discrimination, unequal pay, hiring, or promotion, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or other gender-based harassment. (See a more detailed list of our current offerings below under “ERA can help with the following issues”.)
If we’re able to help with your education-related issue, the types of services we might provide include: legal advice, information, referrals to attorneys or non-legal services, brief legal services, and/or legal representation.
Please note: This program cannot help with emergencies. If you are experiencing a time-sensitive issue, we will do our best to meet your deadlines, but we cannot guarantee immediate help. Please let us know at the top of your inquiry form if you have an upcoming deadline.
I feel like these ladies were there by her side through everything — how they worked with her and how they fought for her, how they were there and they never gave up. They’re so dedicated to what they do, and they don’t give up. They fight.Flor, mother of ERA high school student client
How to contact us
The best way to contact us is by filling out the online Intake Form.
Please note: Our voicemail system is currently closed, and we are currently only taking new inquiries related to school. Please contact us by filling out the online form at the link above, or by emailing [email protected].
What we can help with
ERA can help with the following issues
- Sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other gender-based harassment by a student, teacher, coach, staff, or other faculty member at a a college, university, or other post-secondary education institution;
- Sexual assault, harassment, or other gender-based harassment that targets LGBTQIA+ individuals of any grade level; and
- Unequal opportunities for LGBTQIA+, nonbinary, or GNC individuals of any grade level at school or other education-related programs.
- Please note that we are temporarily unable to assist with employment-related inquiries.
Note: Please be specific when telling us about your problem or issue. For example:
- My professor has made sexual advances towards me.
- I was sexually assaulted by a classmate.
- I’m being bullied because people think I’m gay.
- My teacher refuses to use my pronoun and uses the pronoun associated with my assigned sex.
Unfortunately, we cannot help you if:
- You are already being represented by an attorney on this issue.
- There is a legal conflict with your issue/matter. For example, we cannot help you if we have already agreed to help the opposing party in your case.
- Your issue falls outside our current practice areas listed above.
- You do not respond to communications or answer during the scheduled intake call.
- You are abusive to our staff.
In light of our temporary freeze on taking new employment inquiries, we recommend the following resources:
- In the US: The National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) is a national organization of lawyers who protect employees’ rights. Use NELA’s Find-A-Lawyer tool. (Many attorneys who are part of NELA may offer free consultations.)
- In the US: LawHelp.org keeps a map of organizations by state that provide legal aid or pro bono help. Look for an organization near you and find out if you qualify by using LawHelp’s 50 States map.
- In California, Legal Aid at Work offers several legal clinics and helplines for low-income individuals. Learn about Legal Aid’s helplines and clinics here.
- In California: the California Employment Lawyers Association is a statewide organization of individual attorneys who represent employees in discrimination issues. Many attorneys will offer free consultations. Use CELA’s Find A Lawyer tool here.
How long it will take & what to expect
Because our Advice & Counseling Program clients receive free, personalized, professional legal services from ERA, the overall process usually takes between 3-5 weeks from the time you fill out the online form (or leave a voicemail), through the time we are able to complete the services provided. The length of time varies depending on the complexity of your legal problem and the number of inquiries we receive.
Here’s how it will go:
Step 1: Fill out the online inquiry form
Step 2: You’ll get an email from us, usually (as long as your issue is in one of our practice areas and you provide enough information on your form).
- The email will have a link where you can select an available appointment time that works for you to speak with one of our intake workers on the phone
- Most people are able to schedule an appointment for some time in the next 2 weeks
1 – 2 weeks later…
Step 3: At your scheduled appointment time, you’ll receive a phone call from us. The phone conversation will last about 1 hour. You’ll speak with one of our intake workers (a legal advocate or lawyer).
- The purpose of the conversation is for us to understand your legal problem so we can determine how we might be able to help you.
- Our intake workers are trained in trauma-informed, survivor-centered practices, and will ask the right questions to identify the legal issues in your case. You will not be asked to recount the details of a sexual assault during this conversation. (We may need to understand the extent of the assault, but we will not pry for additional, unnecessary details.)
- The intake worker may need to ask details about events that took place before and after the assault.
- We might not be able to provide you with legal advice during this call, but we will follow up with that information later. This conversation is an opportunity for you to tell us what happened, and for us to ask you questions to better understand your legal problem.
- Please note: If you do not answer the intake worker’s phone call at your appointment time, you will have to select a new appointment time through the scheduling link in the original email. This process may take up to an additional 2 weeks.
3-5 business days later…
Step 4: We’ll let you know how we can help.
- Within 1 week of your intake phone conversation, we will email or call you to let you know how ERA can help you. Common services offered include but are not limited to:
- A letter or phone call to you providing legal advice, information, and referrals related to your legal problem;
- A letter to your employer or school advising them of the laws that exist (which they may be violating);
- Helping you draft paperwork such as an email, letter, or an administrative charge or appeal;
- Conducting legal research for you;
- Reviewing your school or employer’s policies and helping you understand them;
- Connecting you directly to another attorney or organization that may be better able to assist you; and
- Legally representing you in a pre-litigation matter, such as in a school sexual misconduct (Title IX) proceeding or in filing a charge with an administrative agency.
1-2 weeks later…
Step 5: You’ll receive free legal advice or counseling from ERA.
- Within 1 to 2 weeks of accepting our offer of services, you will receive whatever services we agreed to provide. (Note: More in-depth services may take longer to complete.)
Step 6: What’s next?
Once we’ve helped you, we will close your case, and you’ll receive a survey asking for feedback on your experience. It is very important to us that you feel heard and supported throughout this process and that your legal needs are met, so we appreciate you taking the time to fill out this short survey.
Ready to get in touch? Fill out the online form.