Friday, March 18, 2022

Chai Feldblum to Deliver Thomas Lecture April 11

Chai Feldblum

Chai Feldblum, a leading civil rights advocate and legal scholar, will deliver the 2022 Thomas Lecture on April 11.

Chai Feldblum, a leading civil rights advocate and legal scholar, will deliver the 2022 Thomas Lecture on April 11.

Her talk, “Transforming Employment for People with Significant Disabilities,” will examine how attitudes toward people with disabilities have shifted from charity to civil rights, with the latter epitomized by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Feldblum argues that nondiscrimination laws are limited in their capacity to move the needle on increasing employment for people with significant disabilities and that we must complement those laws by leveraging the government's market power to incentivize the hiring of people with significant disabilities.

The lecture will be held in person in Sterling Law Building Room 127 from 4:30–6 p.m. and is open to the Yale Law School community. Registration is required.

Feldblum has devoted her career — which spans work in the public and private sectors and academia — to advancing civil rights, particularly for people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, and women. From 2010 to 2019, Feldblum was one of five commissioners on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal law against employment discrimination. During her EEOC tenure, Feldblum focused on legal protections for employees with disabilities and those who are pregnant. She co-chaired the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.

Prior to establishing a civil rights consultancy last year, Feldblum directed Workplace Culture Consulting at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, where she was also Partner. Between 1991 and 2010, Feldbaum taught at the Georgetown University Law Center, where she created and led the Federal Legislation Clinic, partnering with students to represent nonprofit organizations working for legislative change and social justice.

Earlier in her career, Feldblum served as Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union AIDS Project, in which capacity she contributed to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). She similarly participated in the passage of ADA Amendments Act of 2008. She was Director of Legal Research at the AIDS Action Council from 1987 to 1988.

Feldblum clerked for Judge Frank M. Coffin of the Federal Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court. She earned her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude and with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Barnard College and her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she served on The Harvard Law Review’s Board of Editors and was President and Board Member of the Women’s Law Association.

The James A. Thomas Lecture was established in 1989 in honor of Dean James A. Thomas ’64 and his many years of service to Yale Law School. It brings to the Law School a scholar whose work addresses the concerns of communities or groups currently marginalized within the legal academy or society at large.