Appendix M: Certificate Program in Worklaw
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Workplace Law Certificate Program
I. Description of the Certificate Program
The Workplace law professors at DU (listed below) have been engaged for the past several years in the process of remaking the Workplace law curriculum at the law school to better leverage the considerable academic resources that the law school has attracted in the area in recent years and to position the University of Denver Sturm College of Law to become a leading academic institution in the area. The Workplace Law program at DU would immediately be the strongest labor and employment law program west of the Mississippi, and would very quickly be one of the top programs in the country.
Program faculty includes seven full-time tenured or tenure-track members of the law faculty (Professors Arnow-Richman, Cimini, Corrada, Katz, Raghunath, Rovner, and Smith), one full-time Lawyering Process Professor (Professor Ruan), and two regular adjunct faculty (Professors Sheldon Smith and Bill Berger).
II. Admission criteria
All enrolled law students in good standing will be eligible for the Workplace Law Certificate.
A. The Basic Workplace Law Curriculum
Survey of Employment Law (L4706): This course introduces the general field of employment law, providing an overview of both common (employment-related contract and tort law) and statutory law (including antidiscrimination, wage and hour, and union/management relations). The course’s goals are employment law literacy and introduction of basic themes underlying the law in the field. The course has been designed with an eye toward the student unsure about their interest in the area.
Employment Discrimination Law (L4650): The employment discrimination course provides comprehensive and in-depth coverage of the most common area of employment practice. The course covers Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991, Section 1981 of the Post-Civil War Civil Rights Act, and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, among others.
Labor Relations Law (L4355): The labor law course provides comprehensive and in-depth coverage of law related to union and management relations. The course covers the National Labor Relations Act, parts of the Railway Labor Act and various state public sector labor relations laws. The course is often taught as a simulation wherein students can form a union and bargain with the professor about the terms and conditions of the class. In the simulation class, students file briefs, argue motions and may even draft a collective bargaining agreement.
B. More Depth: Topic-Specific Courses and Seminars
1. Employment Law
Employment Law — Benefits (L4205): This course is a statute and case law course designed to introduce students to Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the important federal law that controls the design and operation of virtually all employee benefit plans. The course is intended to provide students with an understanding of the application of ERISA and how ERISA issues arise in business and private law practice. The classroom scenarios include lecture, problem solving and role playing to identify the kinds of experiences students are likely to experience in private practice.
Employment Law in the New Economy (L4024): This seminar focuses on employment issues that arise in technology and information-based companies, particularly disputes about the ownership of intangible property. The course covers employee restrictive covenants, trade secret law, and employee inventions. It also considers broader trends among new economy companies, such as the decline in long-term employment, the growing use temporary labor, reductions in employer-provided benefits, and the changing role of labor unions. (Prerequisites: Any of the following: Survey of Employment Law, Employment Discrimination Law, or Labor Law.)
Workers’ Compensation (L4680): The course covers employment-related injuries. Administrative practice before compensation boards, and issues concerning the relationships between standard litigation and administrative remedies are analyzed.
Employment Law and Business Planning: This seminar considers contemporary employment law from a corporate perspective. It examines how employment issues influence business decision making and how employers structure the workplace to ensure legal compliance and manage risk. Topics include anti-harassment policies and investigations, internal and external dispute resolution programs, executive employee contracts, changes in corporate structure, layoffs, and employee resignations.
Employment Law Mediation: (Prerequisite: Survey of Employment Law or Employment Discrimination; satisfies upper level writing requirement; limited to 16 students) This advanced seminar is for students looking to apply their employment law knowledge to a skills training course involving alternative dispute resolution. Many individual employment matters are handled pro-se by the federal courts, which often require mediation. This class works through a realistic fact pattern and requires students to research and write client and court documents in preparation for mediation. Additionally, the students will prepare a (mock) client and participate in a moot mediation with experienced, volunteer mediators.
Employment Law Writing Competitions: (Prerequisite: Survey of employment Law or Employment Discrimination; satisfies upper level writing requirement; limited to 16 students) This advanced seminar is for students interested in developing papers for employment law writing competitions. Topics will be developed in consultation with the professor. Outlines and multiple drafts will be completed. The goal is for students to produce a writing sample competitive for entry in one of the numerous employment law writing competitions, and possibly for publication.
2. Employment Discrimination Law
Advanced Topics in Anti-Discrimination Law (L4039): This seminar allows students who have already been exposed to anti-discrimination law to go into further depth in this area in order to explore its cutting edge issues. The seminar’s initial focus will be on (1) why and how we protect certain groups in the employment context, and (2) concepts of intent and causation in disparate treatment law (i.e., what exactly does it mean to say that an employer “intentionally” discriminated or that the employer discriminated “because of” an employee’s race or sex), as well as methods of proving intent and causation. It will also deal with intent and causation in the area of sexual harassment. However, the remainder of the seminar will be largely driven by the students’ interest, as students will select their own paper topics and make multiple presentations to the other students on those topics. So a broad spectrum of topics tends to be addressed. The student papers in this course will be of the academic variety. That is, they will need to go beyond simply summarizing black letter law or doctrine; they will require original thought, such as understanding trends, analyzing, or critiquing current doctrine. The papers will be 20-30 pages. Students will turn in a detailed outline, a rough draft, and a final draft. Completion of this paper will satisfy the Upper Level Writing Requirement. (Prerequisites: A course in Employment Law or Employment Discrimination Law, though not necessary, is highly suggested. In some cases, other courses or experience will suffice. Admission to this course is by permission of the instructor.)
Gender and the Law (L4260): The course is based on sex-discrimination materials, especially those found in the Constitution and civil rights and employment laws. It emphasizes a feminist analysis relating to speech issues and theoretical approaches. It also gives an historical perspective leading into reproductive rights. Next, it addresses women’s sexuality issues including rape, incest, and prostitution, and provides an analysis of the social construction of heterosexuality. Finally, it explores the impact women have in the legal profession.
Disability Law (L4202): This class outlines legal issues concerning persons with disabilities. It pays special attention to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The course may include some practical exercises, such as complaint drafting or other applications of the substantive law.
Civil Rights Clinic (L4809): The Civil Rights Clinic provides services to clients in matters involving civil rights and liberties violations. Students in this clinic represent clients before courts and civil administrative agencies in a broad range of civil and human rights matters, including discrimination based on disability, race, gender, religious, age, and national origin discrimination; as well as constitutional law issues.
Sexual Orientation and the Law (L4543): This seminar offers an opportunity for students to study the relationship between law and sexual orientation. Historically, law in this country consistently and pervasively regulated the realm of human identity and behavior we call sexuality. However, questions and claims challenging traditional assumptions about sexual orientation have surfaced in the last twenty-five years. Our study of sexual orientation and law allows students to view the relationship between law and society through a new lens, that of sexual orientation. Specifically, students examine issues of sexual orientation arising in areas ranging from Constitutional law, criminal law, employment law, family law, health law, immigration law, to tax law. They discuss some or all of the currently controversial issues relating to sexual orientation and law. This includes such topics as the proliferation of both nondiscrimination laws and anti-gay initiatives like Amendment 2 in Colorado; the Constitutionality of laws prohibiting specified sexual behavior between different-sex and same-sex adults; the Constitutionality of laws limiting the right to speak about sexual identity, public and private employment; and discrimination against same-sex couples with respect to marriage, parenting, health benefits, and taxes.
Labor/Civil Rights Law Seminar (L4356): This seminar includes several readings surrounding doctrines of labor and employment law that deal with the issue of race. Readings are in the area of Critical Race theory and Civil Rights. (Prerequisites: Survey of Employment Law and Labor Law.)
Race and Civil Rights (L4510): Does the continued consideration of race in making law and social policy move us closer to achieving equality and social justice for all? This is one of the themes explored in this course. The class addresses the role of race in the areas of employment, housing, voting rights, education and criminal law.
3. Labor Law
Labor Law in Spanish (L4208): An introduction to the National Labor Relations Act (the Act), with an emphasis on unfair labor practices committed by employers and unions. Major sections of the Act as well as relevant cases and materials will be reviewed. The course will cover both investigatory and litigation strategies in the area of labor law. Trial and evidentiary issues that arise in connection with the preparation and trial examination of monolingual Spanish-speaking witnesses will be covered. Ley de Sindicatos: Una introducción a la Ley Nacional de Relaciones de Trabajo (la Ley), con un énfasis en practicas ilícitas de trabajo cometidas por empleadores y uniones. Secciones mayores de la Ley al igual que casos y materiales pertinentes serán examinados. El curso cubrirá ambas estrategias investigatorias y de litigación en la área de la ley laboral. Énfasis en cuestiones de juicio y evidenciarías que surgen en conexión con la preparación y examinación en juicio de testigos monolingües de habla español.
Sports Law (L4545): The course studies the legal problems of professional athletics. It applies the application of contract law, antitrust, labor law and income tax to the functioning of a professional league. The question of governmental regulation of professional sports is a constant focus of students’ work. Special attention is given to the impact of these questions on negotiating players’ contracts.
C. Practice-Based Experiences
DU offers two different clinical opportunities for students interested in worklaw topics: the Civil Rights Clinic (CRC), which covers both employment and public accommodations disability issues; and the Civil Litigation Clinic covering wage and hour and contract issues.
Civil Rights Clinic: The year-long Civil Rights Clinic is an intensive 12-credit program in which students provide legal services to clients who have been unable to secure representation elsewhere in civil rights matters. CRC students practice in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies representing clients in situations involving a broad range of civil rights issues, including employment discrimination on the basis of disability, race, gender, national origin and religion. CRC students are responsible for their clients and cases, and handle all aspects of the litigation, including development of case strategy; interviewing and counseling clients; drafting pleadings; briefing and arguing motions; conducting discovery, including taking and defending depositions; negotiating settlements; conducting trials; and briefing and arguing appeals.
In addition to their client representation, CRC students also participate in a seminar, the purpose of which is to assist the students in developing the lawyering skills and professional values necessary to represent their clients effectively. The seminar sessions also include discussions of substantive civil rights law as well as topics such as control in the lawyer-client relationship, diversity, client values and goals, the role of lawyers in social change work, and other questions related to civil rights lawyering.
Civil Litigation Clinic: Students in the Civil Litigation Clinic address pressing community legal problems, including those related to work, through individual and group representation as well as projects designed to tackle systemic issues. In addition to representing victims of domestic abuse in civil protection order cases, tenants in low income housing who are being evicted, threatened with the loss of their subsidies or discriminated against, students represent immigrant day laborers in wage claims, contract disputes or injury claims. The different types of cases and venues provide students exposure to a broad skill set including interviewing, counseling, negotiation, trial advocacy – both formal and informal, and research and writing. Because students work in teams and with community partners, they also improve their collaboration skills. Through the community projects, students are exposed to a broad vision of what lawyers can do to address systemic problems identified by low income communities and groups that advocate on their behalf.
IV. Program objectives
The Workplace Law program offers in-depth study and training in Employment and Labor Law. The program will also provide a platform for participating students to interact with employers and scholars in the field of workplace law. Successful completion of program requirements (see below) will result in award of a Certificate.
V. Program requirements and required courses
1. A minimum of twelve (12) non-clinical semester credits in the standard Workplace Law curriculum. The twelve semester credits of coursework must include
a. Survey of Employment Law;
b. At least one of either Employment Discrimination Law or Labor Law; and
c. In the event that the faculty adopts an upper-level skills requirement, a Workplace Law class that satisfies the upper-level skills requirement.
In order to ensure that all students graduate with a diversity of legal knowledge and experience, students may not receive more than fifteen (15) credits of coursework in the standard Workplace Law curriculum.
2. Completion of a capstone experience in the Workplace Law program. Capstone options include:
a. An employment/labor related clinical experience through the SLO;
b. Completion of a research paper satisfying the College of Law’s upper-level writing requirement on a workplace law topic, either through a seminar or directed research;
c. In the event that the SCOL obtains or establishes a workplace law publication, serving as a student editor for the review or journal; or
d. Completion of a designated “capstone” course in the Workplace law curriculum.
3. A cumulative G.P.A. of 3.0 in all Workplace law courses.