How we are fighting workplace abuse

Fired, just for being a mom

After Tasha had her baby, she was excited to return to work. That all changed when her boss fired her for pumping. 

Tasha came to Open Door Legal. With the help of our pro bono partners, Tasha was able to get a 6 figure settlement, a job reinstatement, and a promotion. She knows that she will never be targeted for being a mom again. 

The problem

Low-income employees are unable to enforce their workplace rights

Our solution

Provide all low-income people with an attorney, so that they are given fair treatment in the workplace

Low-income workers are being taken advantage of daily

According to researchers at the Economic Policy Institute, minimum wage workers lose an estimated 15 billion dollars annually in stolen wages. This amounts to about $3,300 lost per person – about one quarter of earned wages.¹ 

Billion dollars in wage theft per year

%

Of low-wage workers were not paid their full wages

%

Average percent of salary unpaid

Thousand dollars in unpaid earning per low wage worker

Help more moms like Tasha

Our employment outcomes

Learn more about our outcomes here.

Thousand dollars in awards

Workers helped

CITATIONS

1. Economic Policy Institute, David Cooper and Teresa Kroeger, Employers steal billions from workers’ paychecks each year
https://www.epi.org/publication/employers-steal-billions-from-workers-paychecks-each-year/

CITATIONS

1. American University, Key Studies and Data About How Legal Aid Improves Housing Outcomes https://www.american.edu/spa/jpo/toolkit/upload/housing-7-30-19.pdf

2. George Washington Law School, In Pursuit of Justice? Case Outcomes and the Delivery of Unbundled Legal Services https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi

Ever since childhood, our co-founder Adrian has been dedicated to reducing poverty.

He studied systemic poverty in college and went to work in the field for a few years. Eventually, he had a thesis that legal aid was the most cost-effective way to address poverty in America. He wrote up a business plan and used it to apply to law school. 

The idea was to create the country’s first system of universal access to civil legal representation that ensures everyone can obtain timely, competent legal help for any legal issue, regardless of ability to pay. That had never been done before in the history of the United States.

In law school, he met Virginia, our Programs Director. Together, they co-founded the organization, two weeks after Adrian passed the bar.

When we opened we put a sign in the window, and with just that marketing and almost no other outreach we were overwhelmed with requests for help from people with good cases who had been turned away everywhere else.

Our first year we had revenue of $35,000. We would hand shred documents because a shredder was too expensive. Despite the financial challenges, we were able to work on over 280 cases in everything from housing law to family law to consumer law in the first year alone.

The hours were extreme, the pay was low, and the learning curve was steep. Still, we persisted. We knew that almost everyone we helped was not able to receive services anywhere else. Eventually, we attracted the interest of funders. We tripled our revenue for several years in a row. In 2015, we won the Bay Area Google Impact Challenge, which enabled us to expand even more. In 2019, we secured additional funding from the city that allowed us to open two new centers in the Excelsior and Western Addition.

As of 2020, our staff has grown to 27 full-time employees. We’ve shown that universal access is possible. Now, we plan to scale city-wide, make San Francisco the first city in the country’s history to have universal access to legal help, and become a model for national replication.