“Working with clients is all about teamwork—like it’s you and your client against the world,” says Jonathan DeLozano, Northwestern Fellow and Attorney in LAF’s Immigrants and Workers’ Rights Practice Group. “It’s like they’re the king and I’m a knight, and we’re going out there together to face whatever forces of evil are at play.”
Jonathan specializes in employment law, defending clients in cases of wrongful termination and wage theft, but also working with them to get unemployment benefits or back pay. “I consider myself to be like Virgil, guiding my clients through the nine circles of bureaucratic hell,” he jokes. Most of his clients are low wage workers, so they don’t have much money saved up. For them, unemployment benefits can be the difference between having a home and sleeping at a shelter.
He recalls a former client—a senior who was fired and then denied unemployment benefits because his employer claimed he had lunged at him. “Prior to the hearing, we had only spoken on the phone. But when he showed up for the hearing, it was clear he had medical problems affecting his mobility.” His client had bad knees, confirmed by his doctor who he had been seeing about the problem. Since his employers’ claim about him lunging at him were clearly false, they ended up winning the case.
In cases involving an employer, Jonathan’s clients often start out behind, lacking the resources to fight back. “Unfortunately, when you don’t have money, you don’t have power. And when you don’t have power you don’t have a voice,” he says. “But if I’m able to represent them, we can work together to identify the wrongs and try to make them right.”
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