Alice B. Jennings

Alice B. Jennings: Attorney with Edwards & Jennings PC
  • Member at Edwards & Jennings PC (2 Attorneys)
  • 65 Cadillac Square, Room 2710, Detroit, MI 48226
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Biography

Alice B. Jennings is a partner in the law firm of Edwards & Jennings, P.C. Ms. Jennings attended Michigan State University (MSU). She graduated in 1971 with a B.A. in Social Work. Ms. Jennings also performed work on her Masters in Social Work at MSU.

Ms. Jennings attended Wayne State University Law School, after working for the Detroit Board of Education as a teacher and social worker for several years.

In 1978, Ms. Jennings received her J.D. and passed the Michigan state bar examination. After graduating from law school, Ms. Jennings served her legal apprenticeship with the Michigan law firm of Philo, Atkinson, Darling, Steinberg, Harper and Edwards. After a few years, Ms. Jennings became a partner with the Philo firm.

In 1982, Alice B. Jennings, with her partner, Carl R. Edwards, established the law firm of Edwards & Jennings, P.C.

From 1996 to 1998, Ms. Jennings was the Chairperson of the Civil Liberties Section of the Michigan State Bar Association.

Ms. Jennings was a founding member of the Black Women’s Lawyers Association. She is a member of the National Bar Association, the Wolverine Bar Association, the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association, the American Trial Lawyers Association and Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.

In 1988, Ms. Jennings, was a member of a People to People delegation, travelling with other attorneys and judges from the United States to the then Soviet Union and Peoples Republic of China to educate these respective governments, law professors, scholars and citizens on the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights and to receive reciprocal lessons from their citizens and law professors regarding their legal foundations and laws.

Philosophically, as a trial lawyer for the people, Ms. Jennings believes the law should be used to advance the cause of social justice and to advance humanity. In the late 1970’s, Ms. Jennings and her partner Carl R. Edwards gave leadership in the crisis in affirmative action in the United States. Ms. Jennings and Mr. Edwards became co-coordinators of the Michigan Coalition to Overturn the Bakke Decision, a broad based organization composed of elected officials, labor organizations, churches, religious organizations, priests and ministers, civil rights organizations, community activist, sexual preference organizations and women rights organizations. Out of the several dozen state organizations, the National Coalition to Overturn the Bakke Decision (NCOBD), which was comprised of similar state organizations and individuals, was born. Ms. Jennings was a leader on the national committee of the NCOBD. The movement coalesced in a historic march on Washington, where over 100,000 citizens marched for Affirmative Action in the nation's capital in May 1978. Ms. Jennings was a speaker at this historic March.

In the early late 1970s, Ms. Jennings was involved in the case to save the City of Detroit’s Detroit Receiving Hospital, the only municipally owned hospital in the city which served medically uninsured City of Detroit citizens, and she was a leader of the coalition Save Detroit Receiving Hospital with representatives from labor, elected officials, religious leaders and community activist forming the Coalition to Save Detroit Receiving Hospital. Though Detroit Receiving Hospital was closed, because of the community involvement, provisions were agreed to requiring medical care for the poor and low income by the newly created Detroit Receiving Hospital, part of the medical complex of the Detroit Medical Center.

In 1980, when the local business community in southeastern Michigan came together to challenge the City of Detroit’s Human Rights Ordinance, Ms. Jennings and Mr. Edwards gave leadership to the Coalition to Save the Detroit Human Rights Ordinance, which among other things, forced employers doing business with the City, to hire Detroit’s African-American citizens, Detroit’s Hispanic citizens, and other ethnic Detroit citizens and women. Ms. Jennings and law partner Mr. Edwards were awarded the Spirit of Detroit award and a Testimonial Resolution by the Detroit City Council for their successful pro bono defense of the City of Detroit Human Rights Ordinance.

In the early 1990’s, when the Mayor of the City of Detroit attempted to privatize city services, threatening the loss of thousands of jobs for City of Detroit workers, their families and residents, Ms. Jennings and her law partner Mr. Edwards were again requested by elected officials, officials from labor organizations, religious leaders and community activists to give leadership to the movement that resulted in the creation of the Coalition to Stop Privatization and Save Our City. This movement led to the creation of a new City of Detroit Charter, which specifically prohibited privatization of City of Detroit government services, unless certain criteria were met.

In 1995-1996, Ms. Jennings, then a founding member of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, was lead counsel, pro bono, with attorneys from the Sugar Law Center, regarding an incinerator in Flint, negotiated and acquired a first of its kind, thirty year consent judgment involving environmental justice issues, which prevented tons of toxic air particles and gases per year from entering our atmosphere. NAACP Flint Chapter et al v. Genesee Power Station Limited Partnership, Governor Engler et al, Genesee County Circuit Court Case No. 95-38228 CV. Ms. Jennings received a Flint NAACP Award for her legal work in the Flint case.

Starting in the early 2000’s, Ms. Jennings and her law partner Mr. Edwards were lead counsel with other plaintiff attorneys and organizers in the Campaign for Corporate Justice at Detroit Edison Company, a statewide gas and electric utility in Michigan, on behalf of Detroit Edison employees, in the landmark class action race and age discrimination case of Luther Gilford et al v. Detroit Edison Company, Wayne County Circuit Court Case No. 93-33296-NO. Working with the National Organization of Women (NOW) and its President, Patricia Ireland, the Rainbow/Push Coalition and its President, Jesse Jackson Sr., famed actors and playwrights Ozzie Davis and Ruby Dee, internationally renown activist Dr. Grace Lee Boggs and the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Development, the Council of Baptist Pastors of Southeastern Michigan, the Catholic Pastoral Alliance, Mrs. Rosa Parks, and a broad-based coalition of officials from organized labor, elected public officials and community activist, Detroit Edison was required, through a five-year Consent Judgment to implement structural changes in its employment policies, procedures and practices to arrest employment discrimination. In this seminal class action lawsuit, Gilford v. Detroit Edison Company, the Plaintiffs won an award of $45,150,000.00. This award remains the largest class-action civil rights award under the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act for Michigan employees.

In 2006, in the Michigan Supreme Court Case, Elezovic v. Ford Motor Company, 472 Mich 408, 697 NW2d 851 (2005), Ms. Jennings established individual liability for an agent of a corporation in a sex-hostile work environment under ELCRA. This case is a landmark ruling under Michigan law.

In 2005, Ms. Jennings and her partner, Carl R. Edwards, with co-lead counsel, Atlanta attorney Robert E. Shields with the law firm of Doffermyre, Shields, Canfield & Knowles, LLC, filed the Brown v N. L. Industries class action case on behalf of thousands of Detroit residents involving a toxic lead smelter which spewed lead contamination on the Kraizwood community for over 20 years, until the area was declared a Super Fund site in the early 2000’s. An historic settlement was reached in the case in 2010. This case was an example of Plaintiffs’ trial lawyers and the community organizing together to produce “environmental justice.”

Most recently, in July 2014, in the face of thousands of water shutoffs, in residential homes, by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Alice Jennings became lead attorney of a national legal team, filing a constitutional challenge to the irreparable harm occurring to citizens of the cities of Detroit and Highland Park because of this humanitarian crisis created by the massive shutoffs in residential homes and apartment buildings. Lawyers from the Sugar Law Center, NAACP, Legal Defense Fund, ACLU, National Lawyers Guild and other lawyers on the side of people are involved in this significant, legal and humanitarian case. Importantly, the United Nations (UN) declared these water shutoffs by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department a violation of the United Nations Charter on Human Rights. Equally significant, representatives from the UN visited Detroit, conducted investigations and publically announced their findings critical of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

In 2007, the Black Woman Lawyer’s Association of Michigan presented Ms. Jennings with the Harriett Tubman Award as the “Trail Blazing” lawyer of the year.

Since 1986, Ms. Jennings has performed legal work to establish several non-profit 501(c)(3) community organizations and has been involved on several non-profit boards, including Save Our Sons and Daughters (SOSAD), Detroit Summer, James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, and Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEG).

In 2002, after extensive discussions with Mrs. Rosa Parks, regarding her historic legacy, Ms. Jennings and her law partner Mr. Edwards, created and financially donated $50,000.00 to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Endowment Trust, an endowment for the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. The Parks endowment trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit to continue Mrs. Parks’ life-long work on behalf of children.

Since 2012, Ms. Jennings has been a Board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. The school focuses on “place based” community education.

Ms. Jennings has focused her most recent practice on employment/labor law, civil rights, and whistleblower cases. In addition, she is involved in personal injury cases and cases involving environmental justice. As part of her philosophy to expand social justice, Ms. Jennings has mentored hundreds of law clerks, lawyers and community activists.

Areas of Practice (3)

  • Environmental Law Section
  • Labor & Employment Law Section
  • Master Lawyers Section

Education & Credentials

Contact Information:
313-915-3475  Phone
(313) 961-5000  Phone
(313) 961-9165  Fax
University Attended:
Michigan State University, B.A., Social Work, 1971
Law School Attended:
Wayne State University Law School, J.D.
Year of First Admission:
1978
Admission:
1978, Michigan
ISLN:
914699352

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Detroit, Michigan

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