Al Meyerhoff: Labor Lawyer Who Fought Sweatshops Dies at 61
Posted Dec 23, 2008 4:55 PM CST
By Molly McDonough
Al Meyerhoff, a labor lawyer who lead a landmark class-action lawsuit against American clothiers operating sweatshops on the island of Saipan has died of complications from cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 61.
Meyerhoff's suit against retailers, including The Gap, resulted in a $20 million settlement in 2002.
Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, told the Los Angeles Times that Meyerhoff was always "trying to figure out how to deliver justice to different groups of people whether they were farmworkers or immigrants or people who had been damaged by employers. ...
"He had a range of interests, a sense of outrage and a tremendous sense of humor that all sort of came together with his remarkable legal talents."
Born in Stafford, Conn., Meyerhoff grew up the target of bullies, which caused him to develop "an active dislike of the abuse of power."
He channeled that dislike of abuse of power into a legal career, going straight from Cornell in 1972 to the nonprofit California Rural Legal Assistance, where he made $60 a week representing farmworkers and the rural poor, the Times reports.
Among his successes was a challenge to a California statute preventing undocumented immigrant children from attending public school.
In 1998, Meyerhoff joined Coughlin Stoia, a major class-action law firm. He also was a regular blogger at The Huffington Post, with his last post dated Nov. 17, around the time he learned his rare blood disorder had turned to leukemia.
He is survived by his wife and daughter.