The California Employment Lawyers Association has bestowed Jean Hyams with the Joe Posner Lawyer of the Year Award, the organization’s highest honor. Established in honor of a beloved founder of CELA and awarded at the organization’s annual conference, the Joe Posner Award annually recognizes the individual attorney who has best demonstrated one or more of Joe’s inspiring qualities and who exemplifies tireless commitment to the plight of employees. CELA member and past President Toni Jaramilla presented Jean with the award at CELA’s 32nd Annual Conference, held this year in San Jose, California.
In bestowing this award, CELA wrote: “Jean selflessly and tirelessly devotes herself to CELA’s mission. She has served on countless boards and committees, and also served successfully as CELA’s President. Jean always says “yes” to requests for informational interviews with new colleagues, frequently meets with colleagues in person to assist them on their journey in the law, answers phone calls and emails from colleagues, and comes in on the eve of trial to help CELA members fight for justice in court. Like Joe, Jean seizes the day, and lives a vibrant life full of travel, family, and companionship. She has great wit, charm, and a love for wine, just like Joe. Jean embodies Joe’s vision, and continues to fight vigorously to move CELA forward as we embrace new social movements, and bring new and diverse voices to the table.”
In describing Jean’s many contributions to CELA, Toni Jaramilla said: “Jean has been an architect or driving force behind a number of CELA ‘firsts.’ In 2007, she co-organized CELA’s first Lobby Day. Later that same year, she spearheaded CELA’s first all-day skills seminar (“Disability Discrimination Cases: From Intake through Trial”). In 2009, she was a central organizer of CELA’s first day-long mock trial training. And this year, she again co-organized the pre-Conference seminar on electronic discovery. In 2011, Jean proposed the annual Committee Conclave to bring together CELA’s committee chairs with the goal of integrating CELA’s long-term strategic plan with the work of the committees.”
Jean offered these words of inspiration to other CELA members: “We have found our power and purpose together – to become a formidable voice for workplace fairness and equity. So long as we hold tight to our values and demonstrate solidarity, we really are unstoppable. Those values mean so much right now as we see how vulnerable our society is when pressure is applied to the fault lines of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and so many other oppressions. We are called on right now, as a community, to model the strength that comes from a deep commitment to inclusion and diversity.”
CELA is a statewide organization of over 1,200 California attorneys who devote the major portion of their practices to representing employees in individual employment cases and class actions, including cases involving unpaid wages, discrimination, harassment, retaliation and whistleblowing. For more information visit the CELA website.