My name is Henry Harrington and I am an Anthropology major working as an undergraduate intern at the Equal Justice Center (EJC). The Equal Justice Center is a non-profit law firm and employment justice organization that works to empower low-income workers to achieve fair treatment in the workplace regardless of immigration status. During my time here this summer, I am one of several interns who conduct client intake, which means that we speak over the phone or face-to-face with potential clients who have experienced injustice in the workplace. I meet with our employment attorneys each week about each potential client I interview, and it is my job to represent each person’s claim accurately, so that the attorneys can make their best judgement about whether the EJC can accept each case.
Unfortunately, the EJC is unable to accept the majority of the cases brought to its doors, and this means that a large portion of my job is advising these potential clients or referring them to organizations better suited to helping them. While the harsh reality of this work may seem discouraging, I have grown to appreciate this latter half of the process immensely. First, it allows me to improve my ability to communicate professionally with people who, at times, are understandably a little frustrated. I can feel my interviewing skills improving, and it is fascinating to hear exactly how these sorts of workplace problems arise.
Second, I have already learned a great deal about the intricacies of employment law. The internship began with an in-depth training session detailing the kinds of legal remedies available for different employment injustices, but it wasn’t until I was actually conducting research for each potential case that I started to understand how complex employment law can be. Often, even when workers have clearly been treated unfairly, the legal requirements for proving mistreatment are so burdensome they simply cannot be met. This has been eye-opening for me, but it is even harder to convey to the workers who have been wronged. Nevertheless, this work is extremely gratifying, as even when the EJC cannot take a case, the information I am providing can often be quite helpful and would not otherwise be available.
Experiences like Henry Harrington’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez