a woman works in a law office
Brittaney Martin, a paralegal at the Law Offices of Mark Mausert, wants people to know they don't have to face sexual or racial discrimination on their own. Photo by Eric Marks

Brittaney Martin knew she wanted to be a lawyer when she graduated from her Virginia City high school—and by the age of 19, she was working in a Reno law office on cases she remains passionate about a decade later.

It was the height of the Great Recession, she recalls. “My mom was losing her house and she hired Mark (Mausert) to help her. She brought me with her to the meeting and Mark said he would take me for a six-week externship.”

She adds with a laugh: “I’ve been here ever since.”

Martin learned early on that when people’s basic security—home or work—is threatened, it can affect all areas of their lives. “In 2008, … a lot of people divorced and a lot of people died,” she says, describing the heavy toll the housing crisis exacted on stressed homeowners struggling with mortgage companies. “But Mark kept people in their homes—and bought people time, so they didn’t have to pay, could save some money, and move on, leave it behind them.”

“These are wonderful people who just want to go to work, do their jobs, and go home. But instead, they go to work and are miserable. They’re having nightmares, it affects their family life. It goes far beyond just harassment at work—there is a domino effect. As well as medical fees, because they’re having anxiety, panic attacks, feel like they’re dying.”
Brittaney Martin, paralegal
Law Offices of Mark Mausert

She sees similarities in the firm’s current workplace harassment cases, where vulnerable employees face blatant sexual or racial discrimination every day. “These are wonderful people who just want to go to work, do their jobs, and go home,” she says. “But instead, they go to work and are miserable. They’re having nightmares, it affects their family life. It goes far beyond just harassment at work—there is a domino effect. As well as medical fees, because they’re having anxiety, panic attacks, feel like they’re dying.”

But just like the foreclosure cases, legal representation and advice can have immediate benefits—even during their first visit to the firm’s office. “Otis is Mark’s dog—a yellow lab,” Martin says with a smile. “I call him our ‘therapy dog.’ He loves everyone and everyone loves him. Especially with new people—who come in and are nervous—he sits under the conference table, right next to them. It’s the best part of my job.”

And being a paralegal for Mausert’s firm is in fact a job Martin loves. “I feel passionately about all of our cases,” she says. “(Workplace) cases are different than the foreclosures—they’re more personal. Not big banks, but employers. And often these employees have past trauma with sexual harassment—and the employer knows that, and knows they’re furthering sexual trauma. And the employer still doesn’t do anything about it.”

Martin encourages people who are experiencing problems at work to reach out for legal help—for themselves and for others. “We almost always have an attorney available to listen to the fact pattern and give advice on how you should proceed,” she says. “And what I like to tell people is (harassment) doesn’t stop with you—and it didn’t start with you. If nobody does anything, it won’t ever stop.”

What are Martin’s future goals? Well, she is starting law school and plans to finally fulfill her high school dream to be an attorney. “The legal field requires a commitment—the law is always changing,” she says. “But I’m going to keep doing what we’re doing.”

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