Last month, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal in the largest employment discrimination case in American history, a class action against Wal-Mart alleging the company has discriminated against hundreds of thousands of women in both pay and promotion practices. LegalFront readers wrote in to let us know that the plaintiffs’ counsel, Debra Smith, is a former TRLA attorney. LegalFront spoke with Debra Smith to learn more about her inspirational story.
Debra Smith was the first in her family to graduate from high school. Her mother dropped out at the age of 16 when she learned she was pregnant with Debra, and her father dropped out in 11th grade. Compelled to help people like her own family, she decided to go to law school, earning her JD from Northeastern University School of Law. She knew she wanted to be involved in civil rights work in the South, and after graduation she purchased an “America Pass” bus ticket that allowed a person to go anywhere in the country for $300. Before getting on the bus, she set up interviews with multiple legal aid offices in the South, including in Georgia, Alabama, and Texas. When she arrived at the TRLA office in Hereford, Texas, Debra knew that she had found the right place for her to begin her legal aid career. Now, 57 years old, she has three children, two in college and one in high school, and she still pursues her passion, representing migrant and farm workers through the San Francisco, California office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
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