Filipino lawyers offer free virtual clinic to help the unemployed

With so many stores and businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment continues to rise.

The Filipino Bar Association of Northern California, or F-BANC, said they know many Filipinos are experiencing unemployment.

They said many Filipinos have had their hours reduced or have lost their jobs entirely.

They also know many Filipinos may need to take time off to care for someone.

F-BANC is offering a free virtual form assistance clinic — where one-on-one appointments are held via phone or video, for a consult or help in filing for CA unemployment insurance, state disability or paid family leave.

ABS-CBN News spoke with F-BANC executive board member and current Vice President Jennifer Sta. Ana about this assistance.

“I saw the flyer. I’ve seen this thing passed around online. If I were to call the number, take me through it. What would the process be like?”

“Sure, so the phone number that we have is connected to our virtual clinic. So the Filipino Bar Association Northern California is also partnering with the Advancing Justice Asian Law Caucus, which is a legal direct services nonprofit.  Once a person calls into our hotline, they will be received by an in-take volunteer. Our volunteers are comprised of community members from grassroots organizations to law students, undergraduates and attorneys who are doing this pro bono. They will go through all of these questions to thoroughly assess what kind of benefits under California EDD agency provides and the intake volunteer then talks to a supervising attorney, all of whom have employment law assistance to better assess what exactly you know what resources are available for that caller.

“And once that’s done, the intake person will give the consult to the caller to let them know what kind of benefit is available. If they want help with the form itself. We can actually have an appointment be made and have a volunteer also go through a form step by step.”

“Our volunteers and our pro bono attorneys are able to talk in Tagalog, Ilocano, Cebuano, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese. And yeah, thanks to everyone who’s really participating in this we have different kinds of language capabilities.”

F-BANC encouraged people in need to call in, even those who are undocumented.

“If people do call into our hotline, folks are able to inform people without status, whether or not they are able for any of the benefits. For example, unemployment insurance, unfortunately is not available to workers without status but if they have work authorization, unemployment might be an option. But state disability insurance and paid family leave are benefits that perhaps could be wage replacement options for undocumented workers depending on that worker situation.”

California residents can inquire about unemployment benefits by calling 415-484-2209.

The multilingual hotline will be open every day between 9 AM and 9 PM.

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