Julie Su, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, to deliver Barrett Social Justice Lecture Feb. 24

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie A. Su will deliver the 2022 Barrett Social Justice Lecture on Thurs., Feb. 24, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. via Zoom. Su’s talk, “Fulfilling the Unfulfilled Promise of Racial and Economic Justice,” will draw on her trailblazing career as a civil rights and workers’ rights attorney.

Julie Su

Su was appointed by President Joe Biden to serve as the deputy secretary of labor and confirmed by the Senate on July 13, 2021. As deputy secretary, she serves as the de-facto chief operating officer for the department, overseeing its workforce, managing its budget and executing the priorities of the secretary of labor.

Su is a nationally recognized expert on workers’ rights and civil rights who has dedicated her distinguished legal career to advancing justice on behalf of poor and disenfranchised communities. A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, she is a past recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. She began her legal career as a Skadden Fellow.

Before joining the U.S. Department of Labor, Deputy Secretary Su was the secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, which enforces workplace laws, combats wage theft, ensures health and safety on the job, connects Californians to quality jobs and career pathways, and administers unemployment insurance, workers compensation and paid family leave.

As California labor commissioner from 2011 through 2018, Su enforced the state’s labor laws to ensure a fair and just workplace for both employees and employers. A report on her tenure released in May 2013 found that her leadership resulted in a renaissance in enforcement activity and record-setting results. In 2014, she launched the first “Wage Theft Is a Crime” multimedia, multilingual statewide campaign to reach out to low-wage workers and their employers to help them understand their rights and feel safe speaking up about labor law abuses.

Before her appointment as California labor commissioner, Su was the litigation director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, the nation’s largest non-profit civil rights organization devoted to issues affecting the Asian American community. She is known for pioneering a multi-strategy approach that combines successful impact litigation with multiracial organizing, community education, policy reform, coalition building and media work.

Frequently named to top-lawyer lists such as the Daily Journal’s “Top 75 Women Litigators” in California and California Lawyer’s “Super Lawyers,” Su was the first labor commissioner to be included among the Daily Journal’s “Top 75 Labor and Employment Lawyers.” She has also been named one of the 50 most noteworthy women alumni of Harvard Law School and one of the 100 most influential people in Los Angeles in Los Angeles Magazine.

Su speaks Mandarin and Spanish.

The Barrett Lecture, along with the Social Justice Program, was named, endowed, and expanded in honor of George Barrett (VLS ’57) in August 2015. “Citizen George,” as he was widely known, was a civil rights pioneer. He represented student protesters in the Nashville sit-in movement, labor unions working to protect workers’ rights, and shareholders and consumers wronged by corporate malfeasance. He was best known for leading a decades-long and ultimately successful legal battle to desegregate Tennessee’s public institutions of higher learning.