The day “Kim” met Lillian changed her life.
As a Vietnamese single mother of two, Kim worked as a manager at a salon for nearly a decade to provide for her two children. The work was physically demanding and didn’t pay much, but it was enough to meet the basic needs of her small family. Recently, Kim filed a workers compensation claim due to chronic pain in her arms and shoulders as a result of her work duties. In retaliation for filing the claim, Kim’s boss hired an assistant manager for Kim’s same position(with the intention of replacing Kim) and then fired Kim, alleging that she did not call and did not show up for work one day. Not only was this allegation completely false, it was out of character. Kim was an exemplary employee, who hardly ever missed a day of work.
The Employment Security Department granted Kim unemployment benefits; however, Kim’s boss appealed this decision. He argued that Kim should be disqualified from receiving benefits for the same reason she was fired. If ineligible, Kim would not be able to receive benefits while she supported her family and looked for another job. Thankfully, Lillian Kaide of the Unemployment Law Project (ULP) represented Kim to dispute her boss’s allegation, and ULP and Kim prevailed. As a result, Kim continues to receive unemployment benefits while she looks for work, which is an unimaginable relief. ULP helped Kim avoid a potentially huge financial crisis, which could have resulted in homelessness for Kim and her children. Now, Kim has the stability she needs to care and provide for her children while searching for another job. Thanks to ULP, Kim and her family will be self-sufficient once again.
Lillian Kaide is the 2016 Seattle University School of Law Francis Perkins Fellow. Lillian is the second recipient of this fellowship, which is a unique partnership between the law school’s Access to Justice Institute and ULP. Lillian began working at ULP in September 2016, and her focus is to serve low-income immigrants and refugees in need of representation in unemployment appeals, like “Kim.” In addition to directly representing clients, Lillian works towards minimizing barriers for immigrants and refugees to find legal help with unemployment. She spends nearly half of her time conducting outreach to community organizations, such as the Downtown Emergency Service Center and Seattle Counseling Service’s LGBTQ Immigrant, Refugee & Undocumented Outreach Project, to educate providers about the services she offers to the low-income immigrant and refugee communities.
“Jobs are like windows for people to provide for themselves and their families, to find out what success means to them and to pursue it,” Lillian said. “That loss can be devastating, so it’s rewarding to be able to give them the boost they need during a difficult time.” And during the course of her fellowship, Lillian will give many more families “the boost” they need to overcome hardships.