AABANY Co-Sponsors: Combating Anti-Asian Racism and Discrimination in the Workplace in the COVID-19 Era

On July 10, AABANY co-sponsored a CLE Program on anti-Asian racism and discrimination in the workplace in the COVID-19 era. The panel focused on how COVID-19 is causing an increase in anti-Asian sentiment and detailed the current state of workplace discrimination laws. Speakers included Helen Park, Counsel at Cozen O’Connor, and William Li, Principal and Founder of William K. Li Law PLLC. The program was moderated by Yoojin DeNiro, Co-Chair of the AABANY Labor & Employment Law Committee. 

The panel began with historical background on anti-Asian discrimination in the United States, with a focus on the recurring villainization of minority groups. Significant examples include the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the internment of Japanese during World War II, and the murder of Vincent Chin (mistaken for Japanese) by white auto-workers. 

Discussion also centered on the model minority myth as a barrier to recognizing the existence of workplace discrimination against Asians. Stereotypes perpetuating the image of Asian American children as math and musical geniuses may appear positive, but actually encourage a damaging narrative that deems Asians as a minority group not suffering from discrimination. The many repercussions include, for example, the separation of Asians from the rest of America by lumping them into one homogenous group and the characterization of all Asians as being polite and submissive. 

The panel then outlined the current state of workplace discrimination laws and provided tips for Asian employees to keep in mind when reporting such conduct in the workplace. According to William Li, legal protections against workplace discrimination exist at both federal and state levels. Some states, such as New York, will have a more extensive list of those protected from workplace discrimination than the Federal law. Tips to keep in mind when reporting workplace discrimination include maintaining an extensive paper trail, remembering that harassment need not be severe or pervasive in order for the employer to be liable, and that a complainant does not have to complain to their employer or file a formal grievance in order to establish liability. 

While discriminatory incidents against Asian Americans have increased in public since COVID-19, it is important to keep in mind that because most work remains remote, the full impact may not be seen until later. 

Thank you to speakers Helen Park and William Li for their time and insight, and Yoojin DeNiro for moderating. Additional thanks to the Cozen O’ Connor firm for hosting the webinar. Those interested in learning more about AABANY’s Labor and Employment Law Committee can do so here

AABANY Clinic Hosts COVID-19-related Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Webinar

On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, the Asian American Bar Association’s (AABANY) Pro Bono & Community Service Committee hosted the webinar, “Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This event addressed the increase in violent incidents against the Asian American community, and the relevant State and Federal laws for victims and witnesses of these hate crimes who seek to report them.

The webinar featured panelists David Chiang, Supervising Assistant District Attorney, Queens District Attorney’s Office; Joe Gim, Deputy Chief, Nassau County District Attorney; and Julia Kerr, Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Eugene Kim, a volunteer at AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic, moderated the panel.

David Chiang, Supervising Assistant District Attorney, Queens District Attorney’s Office, discussed New York Penal Law § 240 and § 485, both of which elevate sentencing for bias incidents to the criminal level. Section 240, covering Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, states that threats of physical violence based on the perception of race are considered as misdemeanors. Section 485, the Hate Crime Law, enhances sentencing for incidents proven to be motivated by bias.

Joe Gim, Deputy Bureau Chief, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, advised victims and bystanders of anti-Asian hate crimes to record the crime by taking a video of the incident with their phones or calling 911. Doing so would not only preserve the evidence necessary to strengthen the case against the perpetrator but also publicize these hateful acts to highlight the prevalence of anti-Asian violence. Even if the victim is not willing to come forward, whether due to language barriers or distrust of law enforcement, bystanders can still report the crime. After preserving evidence and notifying the police, the police will file a Complaint Report, and the case will either result in an arrest or be handed off to prosecutors and end up in trial.

Julia Kerr, Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, concluded the webinar by encouraging individuals to report incidents of anti-Asian violence to both government and non-governmental organizations to prevent future hate crimes. In addition to calling 911, victims and bystanders can also reach out to the New York State and New York City Hate Crime Task Forces, MTA Hotline, local District Attorney, and NY Attorney General’s Office. Other resources include AABANY, Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Communities Against Hate, Equality Watch, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Anti-Defamation League. 

We thank the panelists for joining us for this CLE program and Eugene for serving as the moderator. Look forward to more community presentations on COVID-19 and its impact on the APA community this month. For more information on anti-Asian harassment and violence, email [email protected] or call our hotline at 516-690-7724.

View the video of the webinar by clicking on the image above.

AABANY Hosts Webinar on Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic

On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, the Asian American Bar Association (AABANY) hosted a webinar titled “Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This webinar examined the recent trends and data gathering of Anti-Asian violence incidents, as well as the legal framework of hate crimes under New York and Federal law. The nearly 100 attorneys who attended were given resources to advise the community as to their rights, along with opportunities to volunteer with AABANY. 

The panel included Joe Gim, Deputy Bureau Chief, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office; Sheryl Koretz, Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; Jia Lynn Yang, Deputy National Editor, The New York Times; John Yang, Executive Director, Asian American Advancing Justice (AAJC); and Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation. Karen R. King, Counsel at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and a Vice Chair on the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee, moderated the panel.

Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation, began by sharing some statistics to give some context about the Asian American community both in New York City and in the United States. She highlighted that Asian Americans are the fastest growing population within New York City and across the country, currently composing 60% of the overall population in New York City. Approximately one in four Asian New Yorkers live in poverty, which is the highest of any racial groups in the city. Yoo noted the Asian American Federation’s aggressive media strategy in sharing stories from the Asian American community on different media outlets in hopes of combating the Asian American community’s continued invisibility and marginalization. She noted that a rise in anti-Asian discrimination started when Asian Americans began to wear masks back as early as January, a practice that is not considered strange in Asia due to experiences with previous outbreaks such as SARS in 2002. 

Joe Gim, Deputy Bureau Chief, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, discussed the elements of a hate crime under NY Penal Law § 485.05. Gim explained that § 485.05 elevates the level of punishment that a defendant would receive for a crime that already exists on the books. Among the hate crimes or bias incidents in connection with the pandemic that are the topic of this discussion, there are only a few that would fall under this statute. A second statute that is particularly important to know for community outreach on this issue is aggravated harassment in the second degree under NY Penal Code § 240.30, which deals with verbal or nonverbal threats that fall under misdemeanors or hate crimes.

John Yang, Executive Director of Asian American Advancing Justice, touched on the different channels available to witnesses or victims and the proper actions to take when put in such a situation. A reluctance to report hate crimes has always been an issue for all minority groups. The panelists reinforced the point that bystanders are crucial to these acts of discrimination coming to light. While it may not be safe to directly intervene in these situations, simply calling law enforcement, documenting or recording the crimes, or consoling the victim helps tremendously. Even without knowing the person harassed, as long as someone has proof of the crime being committed, it is possible to prosecute the person responsible entirely by the bystander. There is currently AAAJ/Hollaback bystander training available to help prepare for such situations. 

Jia Lynn Yang, Deputy National Editor for The New York Times, explained the thought process and impact of writing her article “Who Belongs in America,” which argues that the fight of Asian Americans for our place in the United States is far from over. Despite the historical struggle for racial equality through US immigration law, there are still those who deny the presence of Asians with legal status in the country. She found that people felt more comfortable with talking about their own experiences of harassment after her article affirmed the severity of these crimes.

Sheryl Koretz, Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, highlighted the importance of identifying those responsible for the hate crimes, seeking reimbursement for the victims, and spreading the awareness of these cases. In New York, there are newly formed hate crime task forces such as the Asian hate crimes hotline launched by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Victims don’t necessarily need a physical injury to seek compensation. The police have reaffirmed that people reporting hate crimes will never be questioned about immigration status. 

Before wrapping up the CLE program, Karen King asked the attendees to consider signing up to be a part of the Community Response Task Force (CRTF), which AABANY uses to communicate with volunteers when there are pressing legal matters affecting the Asian community, including Ant-Asian Violence. Here is the link:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdumGO2c9heuQoMifYIWUdZsg3qmimijswUYmOFznXs9ROAww/viewform.   

If anyone is interested in bystander intervention training, here is the link to efforts on this front by Hollaback!:  https://www.ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention/.

We thank all the panelists for joining us for this timely and vital CLE program, and we thank Karen for organizing it and serving as moderator. Be on the lookout for upcoming community presentations on this topic during APA Heritage Month in May. We hope to be able to count on attorney volunteers to assist victims of anti-Asian violence. If you are interested in volunteering, let us know by filling out the CRTF form using the link above. 

The video of the webinar is embedded in this blog post and you can view it by clicking on the image above.

AABANY Signs onto Statement of Support for Resolutions Opposing Anti-Asian Sentiment

On April 27, 2020, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) along with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and many other bar associations signed onto a statement of support for Congressional resolutions opposing anti-Asian sentiment related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community has been the target of increasing acts of bias, racism, and xenophobia in connection with the coronavirus. AABANY firmly stands against racism and discrimination and is proud to support efforts to address the experiences our community may face with these issues.

Please visit here for the full statement.

National Bar Associations Denounce Rising Anti-Asian Hate Related to the Coronavirus

Seven national bar associations today released a joint statement denouncing the rising number of incidents involving anti-Asian discrimination and racist remarks related to the coronavirus and COVID-19.

Calling for unity in these challenging times are the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the American Bar Association (ABA), the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), the National LGBT Bar (LGBT Bar), the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA), and the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA North America).

“Unfortunately, the emergence of the coronavirus has led to an increase in acts of hate and discrimination targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. The legal community stands united against hate. The current situation calls for unity and support—not acts of division and words that sow fear,” said NAPABA President Bonnie Lee Wolf.

The FBI has warned about a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes related to the coronavirus. Numerous community organizations have documented that acts of discrimination and bias are increasing, including incidents involving stereotypes and xenophobic language.

President Wolf continued, “Thank you to our sister bars who issued their own messages of support for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community when they saw these acts of hate and discrimination on the rise. A special thank-you to ABA President Judy Perry Martinez, HNBA President Irene Oria, NAWL Executive Director Karen Richardson, LGBT Bar President Wesley Bizzell, NNABA President Robert Saunooke, and SABA North America President Aneesh Mehta for joining me in the video statement to launch this campaign. We encourage other bar associations, law firms, and organizations to join us in denouncing discrimination. We stand together. We stand against hate.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng Introduces Resolution to Denounce Anti-Asian Sentiment Caused by Coronavirus

On March 25, 2020, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that denounces the anti-Asian sentiment caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus.  

“The increased use of anti-Asian rhetoric, particularly from our nation’s leaders such as the President, and their use of terms like ‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus,’ and ‘Kung-flu,’ is not only irresponsible, reckless, and downright disgusting, it threatens the safety of the Asian American community; such language demeans, disparages, and scapegoats Asian Americans,” said Meng. “Asian Americans, like millions of others across the nation, are worried about the coronavirus; however, so many Asian Americans are also living in fear following the dramatic increase of threats and attacks against those of Asian descent. During this time of heightened anxiety and fear surrounding COVID-19, we cannot lose sight of protecting the health and safety of every single person – no matter their race, ethnicity, or background. The House must take a strong stand against the sickening intolerance, bigotry, and violence that is leaving a terrible stain on our nation’s history, especially during this moment of an unprecedented public health crisis. I am grateful to my colleagues who introduced this resolution with me today, and for joining me in saying loud and clear: xenophobia and discrimination is absolutely unacceptable. I strongly urge all of my House of Representatives colleagues, to support this measure, and its passage.”  

The resolution has 124 cosponsors. They include: Reps. Chu, Pressley, Castro, Pascrell, Malinowski, Speier, Watson Coleman, Brown, Takano, Cisneros, Schakowsky, Velázquez, Pingree, Lieu, Napolitano, Correa, Haaland, Huffman, Torres, Blumenauer, Fudge, Cárdenas, Omar, Schrader, Moulton, Suozzi, Lynch, Dingell, Connolly, Case, A. Green, Bonamici, Trone, C. Maloney, Khanna, McGovern, Thompson (CA), Larson, Foster, E. Johnson, Jayapal, Kilmer, Jackson Lee, Lofgren, Porter, Raskin, Lowenthal, DelBene, Castor, Jeffries, Trahan, Smith (WA), Rose, Beyer, Rouda, Costa, Serrano, DeFazio, Krishnamoorthi, Ocasio-Cortez, Cicilline, Kim, Sanchez, Soto, Bustos, McCollum, Pocan, Welch, Sablan, Schiff, Larsen, Higgins, Yarmuth, McEachin, DeLauro, Quigley, Clark, Grijalva, DeGette, Engel, Butterfield, Rush, Deutch, Allred, Eshoo, S. Maloney, Kennedy, D. Davis, Bass, Boyle, Nadler, Lee (CA), Norton, Lewis, Mucarsel-Powell, Bishop, Evans, “Chuy” García, Schneider, Horsford, Carson, Wild, Tlaib, Casten, Craig, Frankel, Meeks, Brownley, Spanberger, Wexton, Vargas, S. Garcia, Hastings, Escobar, Cohen, Vargas, Sherman, Waters, McNerney, Cox, McNerney, Lawrence, Tlaib, and Gallego.  

To learn more and to read the text of the resolution, click here.

NAPABA Files Amicus Briefs in the Fourth and Ninth Circuits Challenging the President’s Revised Muslim and Refugee Ban

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For Immediate Release

Dec. 1, 2017

WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) filed amicus briefs in both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to support the preliminary injunction of President Trump’s September 24, 2017, revised executive order barring refugees and individuals from six Muslim-majority countries and North Korea, along with government officials from Venezuela, from entering the United States.

The Trump Administration’s appeals in these cases, State of Hawaii v. Trump and International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, arise from the legal challenges to the third revised executive order, which was announced in September 2017 and set to take effect October 18, 2017. On October 17, Judge Derrick K. Watson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii granted the temporary restraining order. NAPABA filed an amicus brief in this case on November 22. The U.S. district court in Maryland also enjoined the visa ban on October 17, 2017, and the Administration’s appeal in that case is pending in the Fourth Circuit, where NAPABA filed an amicus brief on November 17, 2017.

“This third order continues the discriminatory and unlawful exclusion promoted by its predecessors,” said NAPABA President Pankit J. Doshi. “As a bar association committed to promoting diversity and inclusion, we are proud to continue to speak out in these cases. As an Asian Pacific American community, we have experienced the harms of exclusionary laws and we will continue to oppose this anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant order.”

NAPABA’s amicus briefs describe decades of statutory exclusion of citizens of Asian and Pacific Island countries under early U.S. immigration law, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 — the first federal law to ban a group of people on the basis of their race. The Civil Rights Era marked a dramatic turning point that saw Congress dismantle nationality-based discrimination with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The brief explains that presidential discretion in the area of immigration and refugee admission, while broad, is limited by statute. NAPABA argues that President Trump’s revised order, with its anti-Muslim underpinnings, violates the unambiguous prohibition on discrimination established by Congress.

NAPABA opposed earlier iterations of the executive order, including submitting amicus briefs at the District, Circuit, and Supreme Court level.

NAPABA recognizes lead pro bono counsel, James W. Kim, a NAPABA member and partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP, in Washington, D.C., Mr. Kim’s team (including Andrew Genz, Joshua Rogaczewski, Philip Levine, Matthew Girgenti, and Llewelyn Engel), NAPABA Amicus Committee co-chairs, Professor Radha Pathak of Whittier Law School and Albert Giang, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in Los Angeles, and NAPABA Civil Rights Committee co-chair Meredith Higashi for their leadership drafting the brief, which also involved the efforts of NAPABA staff.

The Ninth Circuit will hear the case on December 6, 2017, in Seattle, WA. The Fourth Circuit will hear the case on December 8, 2017 in Richmond, VA.

For more information, the media may contact Brett Schuster, NAPABA communications manager, at 202-775-9555 or [email protected]

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American (APA) attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 50,000 attorneys and over 75 national, state, and local bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA engages in legislative and policy advocacy, promotes APA political leadership and political appointments, and builds coalitions within the legal profession and the community at large. NAPABA also serves as a resource for government agencies, members of Congress, and public service organizations about APAs in the legal profession, civil rights, and diversity in the courts.

NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.

To learn more about NAPABA, visit www.napaba.org, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@NAPABA).

SENATOR MAZIE K. HIRONO TO BE HONORED BY THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION

From the NAPABA February 2017 Monthly Update:

The American Bar Association plans to honor Senator Mazie K. Hirono for her efforts to advance immigration reform, to improve access to legal services, and particularly to seek the elimination of discrimination.

Senator Hirono is one of four members of Congress who will receive the ABA Justice Award on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, as part of ABA Day in Washington, D.C. at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Senator Hirono is the only woman and the only person of color who will be receiving the ABA Justice Award this year. She was nominated by four former NAPABA presidents — Wendy Shiba, Ruthe Ashley, Paul Lee, and Amy Lin Meyerson — as well as Margaret Masunaga.

Press Release: Asian Americans Advancing Justice Demands Racial Bias Investigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
June 4, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT
Mariam Hosseini, Advancing Justice – ALC
[email protected]
415-896-7728

In response to the recent case of Sherry Chen, a federal employee who was arrested on suspicion of espionage for China before all charges were suddenly dismissed, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) issues the following statement:

As a leading national civil rights voice rooted in Asian American communities, we demand an investigation into whether race and national origin played a role in the shameful indictment of Sherry Chen, a dedicated scientist with the National Weather Service. Because Ms. Chen’s case is not unique or isolated, we further call upon the Administration to examine systemic racial bias against Asian Americans in all federal agencies, particularly those with jobs requiring security clearances.

Ms. Chen is only the most recent victim of over-zealous federal investigators and prosecutors who view with suspicion any ties with family and friends in other countries, particularly China. Clearly, the system has perverse incentives, rewarding law enforcement officials for high-profile prosecutions that fit the narrative of the foreign threat as opposed to rewarding them for a fair and careful consideration of the facts.

Ironically, Asians immigrate to the U.S. because our country claims to offer freedom, a fair process and protections for all, regardless of race and class.  We know that this promise has not held true for communities of color, for example, for African Americans in the criminal justice system.  Neither is the system working for well-educated Chinese Americans who may have assumed that their privileged economic status would protect them against racial bias.

As Sherry Chen’s case, as well as past cases such as the unjust prosecution of fellow federal scientist Wen Ho Lee indicate, the national security system is set up to feed biases and suspicion of “foreigners”.  In the recent past, we have been contacted by other Asian Americans who have faced questions because of visits to their countries of origin, participation in ethnic organizations, or contacts with Chinese friends and family. This racial profiling is unacceptable.

Our community cannot wait for the government to act.  We must also protect our rights. Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus has created this Know Your Rights guide for scientists and other individuals who are contacted by law enforcement agents.  Our national affiliation will continue to champion the rights of our communities and all Americans whenever civil rights and civil liberties are violated on the pretext of national security.

Ruling gives posthumous law license to victim of anti-Chinese 1890s

Ruling gives posthumous law license to victim of anti-Chinese 1890s