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Understanding Employment Law 2012


Speaker(s): Chai R. Feldblum, Debra L. Raskin, Hon. Katharine H. Parker, Jeffrey S. Klein, Jill L. Rosenberg, John Gaal, Justin M. Swartz, Laura S. Schnell, Matthew W. Lampe, Melissa R. Gold, Michele R. Fisher, Richard J. Gonzalez, Robert M. Hale, Theodore O. Rogers, Jr., Willis J. Goldsmith
Recorded on: Mar. 30, 2012
PLI Program #: 35170

Richard J. Gonzalez is a Clinical Professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law where he teaches Employment Discrimination and Pretrial Litigation. Mr. Gonzalez has represented plaintiffs in employment discrimination and wrongful discharge cases since 1988 after having served as an Administrative Law Judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission and as a civil rights lawyer with The Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago. A 1975 graduate of Northwestern University and a 1978 graduate of The Ohio State  University College of Law, Mr. Gonzalez has extensive trial experience and is active in the National Employment Lawyers Association, the ABA, and the CBA. He has published numerous articles on employment law in law reviews and practitioner journals, he is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education seminars, and is co-executive editor of the leading employment law treatise "Employment Discrimination Law by Lindemann & Grossman (BNA).


Chai Feldblum was nominated to serve as a Commissioner of the EEOC by President Barack Obama, and was confirmed by the Senate, for a term ending on July 1, 2013.

Prior to her appointment to the EEOC, Commissioner Feldblum was a Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center where she has taught since 1991.  At Georgetown, she founded the Law Center's Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic, which represented clients such as Catholic Charities USA, the National Disability Rights Network, and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.  She also founded and co-directed Workplace Flexibility 2010, a policy enterprise focused on finding common ground between employers and employees on workplace flexibility issues.

As Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union from 1988 to 1991, Commissioner Feldblum played a leading role in helping to draft and negotiate the ground-breaking Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Later, as a law professor representing the Epilepsy Foundation, she was equally instrumental in the drafting and negotiating of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

Commissioner Feldblum has also worked to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, has been one of the drafters of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and is the first openly lesbian Commissioner of the EEOC. She clerked for Judge Frank Coffin of the First Circuit Court of Appeals and for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun after receiving her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She received her B.A. degree from Barnard College.


John Gaal is a Member of Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, practicing in its Syracuse and New York City offices. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (cum laude, 1974) and the Notre Dame Law School (magna cum laude, 1977), where he served as an editor of the Notre Dame Law Review. Following law school he clerked with the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. His practice focuses on the representation of management in the full range of Labor and Employment Law matters.  Although Mr. Gaal's practice cuts across all industry lines, he has particular experience in the Higher Education, Construction and Health Care sectors. He has co-chaired BS&K's Higher Education Practice Group (for more than 10 years). He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for both Labor and Employment Law and Education Law, is a Fellow of both the American Bar Foundation and the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, is Chair-Elect of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, is a frequent contributor to professional publications, and frequently speaks on Labor and Employment Law and Ethics topics.


JUSTIN M. SWARTZ, a partner at Outten & Golden LLP and Co-Chair of its Class Action Practice Group, represents employees in class action wage/hour and discrimination cases, as well as individual discrimination cases and other employment matters. Justin is also Co-Chair of the firm's Public Interest Committee and a member of its LGBT Employment Rights Practice Group and its Discrimination and Retaliation Practice Group.

Justin currently represents workers in overtime lawsuits against Starbucks, Wal-Mart, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, Gristede's, Duane Reade, Tyson Foods, and other major companies. He also represents hundreds of restaurant workers in overtime and tip theft cases against New York City restaurants, low-wage cleaning workers in their claims that large contractors failed to pay them overtime compensation for their work cleaning buildings around Ground Zero in 2001, and entertainers and servers who have worked at Scores nightclubs. Among his recent employment discrimination maters are discrimination claims against companies that have refused to hire minorities with criminal records including an EEOC charge against Madison Square Garden, systemic gender discrimination claims against a major utility company, and several individual race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and national origin discrimination cases. He has represented hundreds of female and African American stock brokers in nationwide discrimination class action lawsuits against the country's leading brokerage firms, including two recently settled discrimination cases against Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley. He was a member of the trial teams in two class action race discrimination jury trials.

He is active in several bar associations including the New York City Bar Association where he has served on the Corrections Committee (2009-2012), the Committee on Civil Rights (2005-2008), and the Committee on Labor and Employment Law (2002-2005). He is a member of the Executive Board of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) New York chapter and is Co-Chair of the NELA national Wage and Hour Committee. He is an active member of the ABA Section on Labor and Employment Law, where he is a Vice Chair of the planning committee for the 4th Annual CLE Conference, was Co-Chair of the Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee from 2005-2008, is a Contributing Editor for the supplement to the BNA / ABA LEL Section treatise, The Fair Labor Standards Act, a Chapter Monitor for the supplement to the BNA / ABA LEL Section treatise, Employment Discrimination Law, and an active member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee.

Justin frequently works with non-profit organizations on public interest matters including successfully representing a formerly incarcerated security guard in a licensing hearing in conjunction with MFY Legal Services and three low wage immigrant women in sexual harassment, assault and battery, and overtime claims as co-counsel to the ACLU Women's Rights Project.  He has co-counseled with, and performed pro bono services for, The Legal Aid Society, South Brooklyn Legal Services, Manhattan Legal Services, the New York Civil Liberties Union, Legal Momentum, NYLAG, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and MFY Legal Services as a volunteer attorney at its legal clinics. Justin is also part of the Lambda Legal Cooperating Attorney Network. While living in Chicago, he volunteered at First Defense Legal Aid, providing emergency representation for recent arrestees and documenting police misconduct. He belongs to the American Constitution Society and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Justin speaks frequently on employment law and ethics. He and has spoken on and co-authored papers on prosecuting employment discrimination claims, representing sexual harassment victims, discrimination claims against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people, a wide variety of wage and hour issues, workplace privacy issues, retaliatory counterclaims by employers, discrimination suits by law-firm partners, stereotyping evidence in discrimination cases, and other employment law and ethics issues.

He graduated from DePaul University School of Law with honors in 1998. He joined Outten & Golden LLP in December 2003 after representing workers as an associate at Goodman & Zuchlewski, LLP, in New York and Stowell & Friedman, Ltd., in Chicago. He is a member of the bars of New York and Illinois.


Jeffrey S. Klein is Head of Weil’s Employment Litigation Practice Group and Co-Head of the Firm’s Complex Commercial Litigation practice, which encompasses 160 attorneys worldwide. Mr. Klein is distinguished as both a first-chair trial lawyer and as a trusted advisor to senior management, General Counsels, and Boards of Directors of global companies on sophisticated human resources issues and employment-related crises.

For nearly four decades, Mr. Klein has exceled in and shaped novel areas of employment law as the workplace has undergone significant changes, including in relation to gender pay gap concerns, reverse discrimination claims, class arbitration issues, sexual harassment/#MeToo, non-competes, and anti-discrimination policies protecting transgender employees. As a result of his mastery of these issues, Mr. Klein has served as counsel to many top global companies such as Andeavor, Belmond Hotels, Godiva Chocolatier, Goldman Sachs, Mastercard, Perella Weinberg Partners, Sterling Jewelers, Tiffany and Co., Union Pacific, and other Fortune 500 companies.

Mr. Klein also offers unparalleled expertise as a sports attorney, and is regularly sought after by some of the most recognizable coaches and players. His most prominent recent matters include: representing former Maryland football head coach DJ Durkin in a highly publicized investigation into the culture of the football program; guiding Jim Harbaugh through his exit from the San Francisco 49ers and contract with the University of Michigan – one of the most high profile college football coaching signings of all time; and advising a number of professional athletes and college football coaches who have been the subject of front-page news articles over the past few years. 

Mr. Klein is a regular speaker at leading industry conferences, including the annual Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges, and has authored a bi-monthly column for more than 20 years for the New York Law Journal. He also serves as pro bono outside general counsel to the Public Art Fund and Joe Torre’s Safe At Home Foundation.

Mr. Klein is recognized as one of the nation’s leading employment/management attorneys by Chambers USA, Chambers Global, Legal 500, Human Resources Executive, and Lawdragon, which inducted him into its 2018 Lawdragon Legends class in recognition of his 10th appearance in the Lawdragon 500.


Jill L. Rosenberg, an employment partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in New York, is a nationally recognized employment litigator and counselor.  Ms. Rosenberg has significant experience defending and advising employers in discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblowing, wrongful discharge, affirmative action, wage-and-hour and traditional labor matters.  She handles complex individual cases, as well as class actions and systemic government investigations.  She represents a broad range of companies, with a focus on employers in the securities industry, banks and financial institutions, accounting firms and law firms. 

Ms. Rosenberg also has particular expertise in the representation of nonprofit entities, including colleges, universities, hospitals, foundations and cultural institutions.  She frequently speaks on employment law issues for employer and bar association groups. 

Ms. Rosenberg has been recognized by Chambers USA as a leading employment lawyer. Ms. Rosenberg is the firm-wide Partner in Charge of Pro Bono Programs and serves on the firm’s Personnel Development, Risk Management and Diversity Committees.  She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Diversity and Leadership Committee of the New York State Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of New York Legal Assistance Group, a legal services organization serving New Yorkers in need. 

Ms. Rosenberg graduated from Princeton University, and earned her J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School.


Judge Parker was sworn into office on November 4, 2016. She received a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Duke University in 1989. In 1992, she received her J.D., cum laude, from Fordham University School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif. She was a Notes & Articles Editor for the Fordham Law Review.

From November 2000 through October 2016 she was a partner at Proskauer Rose LLP where she practiced labor and employment law and chaired several practice groups including Employment and Law Counseling and Training and Government Regulatory Relations and Affirmative Action. She was associated with the Proskauer firm from October 1993 through October 2000 as an associate.  While at Proskauer, she had an active litigation career in cases involving the full gamut of federal, state and local employment laws. She also litigated cases involving fair housing, civil rights, non-compete, contract and employee benefits disputes.

While at Proskauer, Katharine was elected to be a Fellow of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and consistently honored in various listings such as Best Lawyers in America and New York Super Lawyers.

Judge Parker clerked for the Honorable Warren W. Eginton in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut prior to joining Proskauer.

Judge Parker has been actively involved with the NYC Bar Association during her career, and has chaired both the Disability Law and Employment Committees.  Judge Parker is also involved in pro bono and charitable causes, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Girl Be Heard.  She was a recipient of the Fairy Godmother Award from Girl Be Heard and the Jeremy Epstein Award for Pro Bono Service from the NYC Bar Association.


Matt Lampe represents employers throughout the country in class action and other complex litigation, including cases under the FLSA, ERISA, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, and numerous state discrimination, wrongful discharge, and other tort laws. He has extensive experience leading the defense of clients facing employment class actions across multiple jurisdictions. Matt also defends companies in EEOC, DOL, and other agency investigations alleging systemic discrimination or pay practice violations. In addition, he counsels clients across a broad spectrum of employment law and litigation avoidance topics.

Matt is co-chair of the Firm's Labor & Employment Practice. He speaks frequently throughout the country on employment-related topics, including class action defense and wage and hour compliance and audit strategies. He is a contributing author to Labor & Employment N.Y. (LENY), the official blog of the New York State Bar Association's Labor and Employment Section, and a contributor to The Fair Labor Standards Act, Second Edition, American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law.

Matt was named one of the "Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys" by HR Executive magazine and Lawdragon. In 2012, Matt was recognized as a "Client Service All-Star" by BTI Consulting Group, which commended him for "extraordinary dedication to client service during a time of increased pressure and client demands." He is a Fellow in The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, a life member of the U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference, and a member of the New York City Bar Association and the Labor and Employment Law Sections of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association.


Melissa R. Gold is a Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at BNY Mellon. She is the Americas Head of Employment law for BNY Mellon. Her practice includes a wide variety of employment law issues involving employment litigation/charges/demand letters and counseling. She also has extensive experience with issues arising from the enforcement of post-employment restrictions and in counseling on merger, sale and acquisition related issues through company mergers and acquisitions.

Before joining BNY Mellon, Melissa was part of the JP Morgan Chase Legal Department for over 25 years and was a member of the HR Law Group with responsibility for various businesses and the Latin America region. She was also actively involved in JPMorgan’s Legal Diversity and Pro Bono Fellowship committees, co-chairing a number of initiatives.

Melissa received a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City and received a B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where she majored in Economics. She has been admitted to practice before the New York and New Jersey State Bars, the Federal District Courts for New Jersey and the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Melissa is a member of the Executive Committee, Federal Bar Council Inns of Court, and also a member of the Federal Bar Foundation Board of Directors. She further serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Mobilization for Justice (formerly MFY Legal Services), which provides free legal assistance to residents of New York City on a wide range of civil legal issues, prioritizing services to vulnerable and under-served populations. She is a member of the YWCA’s Academy of Women Achievers and a recipient of President Bush’s Volunteer Service Award in recognition of her 100 hours of community service.


Michele Fisher is a managing partner at Nichols Kaster, PLLP, and the Chair of the Firm’s Business Development and Marketing Groups, which originate class and collective actions and market the firm.  She has dedicated her career to litigating wage and hour cases in an aggressive, creative, and strategic manner. She is one of the leaders of a practice group that has been described as a "powerhouse" for mass wage and hour litigation and arbitration. Michele has the experience, resources, and staff to take on any company regardless of size.  She has handled several jury trials and arbitrations in her fight for employee rights and prides herself on the firm's reputation as a leader in national wage and hour class and collective action litigation. Michele has litigated hundreds of class and collective actions involving positions such as home health aides, delivery drivers, loan officers, retail salespersons, oil and gas workers, assistant managers, branch managers, field service engineers, call center representatives, exotic dancers, inside sales representatives, restaurant workers, insurance adjusters, property specialists, property managers, installers, service technicians, and road construction laborers. 

Michele is active in several organizations. She is a Co-Chair and faculty member of the Practicing Law Institute’s Wage & Hour Litigation and Compliance conference, the Vice Co-Chair of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s Annual Conference Plaining Committee, the Co-Chair of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section's Revenue and Partnership Development Committee, and a wage and hour track coordinator for the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s annual conference. She has also served as the Co-Chair of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee FLSA Midwinter Report, an editorial board member for BNA’s the Fair Labor Standards Act Treatise, and a chapter editor for BNA’s Wage and Hour Laws: A State-by-State Survey. She has been named to the Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Top Women Attorneys, and Rising Star lists repeatedly, is a member of the Top 10 Wage and Hour Lawyers, Top 100 National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 High Stakes Litigators, and LawDragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers, and has been named a Lawyer of Distinction. Michele volunteers as an attorney for a foster child through the Children's Law Center.


Rob Hale, a partner in and chair of Goodwin’s Labor & Employment Practice, represents employers across a broad spectrum of employment matters.

Mr. Hale’s practice involves representation of clients in employment litigation, including noncompetition, discrimination, wrongful discharge, FLSA and ERISA litigation. He has obtained successful results for employers at all stages of litigation, including in preliminary injunction proceedings, at summary judgment, at trial and on appeal. Mr. Hale is experienced in successfully representing employers before administrative agencies and in labor arbitrations. His practice also includes counseling in numerous areas of labor and employment law, including disability discrimination, sexual harassment and other discrimination matters; noncompetition agreement and other restrictive covenants; downsizing; employment agreements; wage and hour compliance; collective bargaining; and personnel policy development and administration. In addition, Mr. Hale is experienced in providing training for managers, supervisors and human resources professionals.

Mr. Hale is a former employer co-chair of the Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee of the American Bar Association. He is a former chair of the ABA's subcommittee on the Family and Medical Leave Act, the ABA's subcommittee on the WARN Act and the Boston Bar Association's Employee Benefits/ERISA Committee. He is also a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA).

Mr. Hale was elected as a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers in 2007. He has also been repeatedly selected for inclusion in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, The Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers magazine.

Mr. Hale has spoken at a number of seminars, including those presented by the American, Boston and Massachusetts Bar Associations, Practising Law Institute and various professional and trade groups.


For more than 40 years, Willis Goldsmith has represented management before state and federal trial and appellate courts in matters arising under the NLRA, Section 301 of Taft-Hartley, ERISA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and OSHA, as well as in injunction, breach of contract, and employment cases. He also regularly represents management in collective bargaining and in labor contract administration.

Among his noteworthy matters is Chamber of Commerce v. Brown, which Willis argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court, reversing an en banc decision of the Ninth Circuit, held that a California statute that prevented employers from using state funds to lawfully deter union organizing was preempted by the NLRA, noting federal labor policy favoring employer speech regarding union organizing.

Willis was Partner-in-Charge in New York from 2008 through 2012, when he was required to step down from that position pursuant to the terms of the Partnership Agreement; from 1991 to 2006, he chaired the Firm's Labor & Employment Practice. He is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers; a Member of the Labor Law Advisory Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; an Advisor, American Law Institute Restatement of the Law Third Employment Law; a Member of the Advisory Board of the NYU School of Law Center for Labor and Employment Law, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and the Labor and Employment Law sections of the New York State Bar Association (Section Secretary, 2013-2014) and of the ABA. He is a Director of the Corporation of Yaddo, the upstate New York artists' retreat, and a Member of the Board of New York Appleseed.


Debra L. Raskin graduated from Radcliffe College magna cum laude in 1973 and received her law degree from Yale in 1977.  She worked at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago from 1977 to 1981, serving in 1981 as Supervisor of Employment Litigation for that organization.  She served as law clerk to Hon. Lee P. Gagliardi of the United States District Court, Southern District of New York from 1982 to 1984.  From 1984 to 1986, she served as an Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York in the Civil Rights Bureau.  She joined the Vladeck firm in 1986, and became a partner of the firm in October 1988.  From 2014 to 2016 Ms. Raskin served as the President of the New York City Bar Association.  She is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, has taught at Columbia and Fordham Law Schools and has lectured and written on employment law matters for the New York State Bar Association and the Practising Law Institute, among other groups. 


Laura S. Schnell, a member of the firm of Eisenberg & Schnell LLP, has practiced employment law in New York City on behalf of employees for over thirty years.  She is a 1980 graduate of Dartmouth College and a 1983 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and served as a law clerk for the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York from 1983 to 1984.  Ms. Schnell represents employees in all aspects of employment law and has extensive employment discrimination, non-compete and employment contract litigation experience as well as financial industry arbitration experience.  She has served on numerous bar committees and is a frequent speaker on issues involving employment litigation, arbitration and mediation.  She has been a Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers recognized attorney since 2006 and was named the New York Best Lawyer of the Year, Employment Law-Individual for 2012 and again for 2017.


Mr. Rogers, the managing partner of Sullivan & Cromwell’s Labor and Employment Law Group, is a graduate of Harvard College (magna cum laude, 1976) and Harvard Law School (cum laude, 1979).  He joined Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in 1979, and has been a partner of the Firm since 1987.  He has been named the New York City “Employment Law - Management Lawyer of the Year” for 2017 as well as for 2014 and the 2012 “New York City Labor Law – Management Lawyer of the Year” by The Best Lawyers in America,  and is one of 33 lawyers in the United States named in “Best of the Best USA 2015” as leading labor and employment lawyers.  In 2017 and for each of the prior nine years, he has been named one of the 100 leading management attorneys in the United States by the publication Human Resource Executive in conjunction with Lawdragon; he is also ranked in the top tier in New York among defendant-side employment lawyers in the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (available at www.chambersandpartners.com/usa). He is a contributing author to BNA’s Workplace Harassment Law (2012), is a co-author of West Publishing Co.’s Employment Litigation in New York (1996) and Employment Law Deskbook for Human Resources Professionals (2001), and serves as a lecturer on employment law topics to many groups, including the Practising Law Institute's annual Employment Law Institute and the Federal Judicial Center’s annual Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges.  He is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, a member of the American Law Institute and of the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section, and has served on the Labor and Employment Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.