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Understanding Employment Law 2020


Speaker(s): Allan S. Bloom, Allison J. Adler, Anne L. Clark, Cassaundra Manning, Christie Del Rey-Cone, Christopher A. D'Angelo, Dana Sussman, Devjani H. Mishra, Howard M. Wexler, Keisha-Ann G. Gray, Laura S. Schnell, Melissa C. Rodriguez, Neil S. Rosolinsky, Nicholas H. Sikon, Raechel L. Adams, Raphael Lee, Reena I. Desai, Seth Kaplan, Stephen P. Sonnenberg, Susan Ritz, William J. Anthony
Recorded on: Mar. 9, 2020
PLI Program #: 278936

Allan Bloom is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and advisor who represents management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended a number of the world’s leading companies against claims for unpaid wages, employment discrimination, breach of contract and wrongful discharge, both at the trial and appellate court levels as well as in arbitration. He has secured complete defense verdicts for clients in front of juries, as well as injunctions to protect clients’ confidential information and assets.

As the leader of Proskauer’s Wage and Hour Practice Group, Allan has been a strategic partner to a number of Fortune 500 companies to help them avoid, minimize and manage exposure to wage and hour-related risk. Allan’s views on wage and hour issues have been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Reuters, Bloomberg and Fortune, among other leading publications. His class-action defense work for clients has saved hundreds of millions of dollars in potential damages.

Allan is regularly called on to advise boards of directors and senior leadership on highly sensitive matters including executive transitions, internal investigations and strategic workforce planning. He also has particular expertise in the financial services industry, where he has litigated and arbitrated cases, including at FINRA and its predecessors, for 25 years.

A prolific author and speaker, Allan was the Editor of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Journal from 2012 to 2017. He is a member of the NYSBA's House of Delegates, sits on the Executive Committee of the NYSBA's Labor and Employment Law Section, and is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

Allan has been recognized in Chambers USA since 2011 and in Best Lawyers in America since 2010.  He is a past recipient of a Cornerstone Award from Lawyers Alliance for New York, for providing outstanding pro bono legal services.


Alli graduated cum laude from Fordham University School of Law and, upon graduating, she joined Proskauer Rose in their Labor & Employment Group.  Alli was at Proskauer Rose for two years and her experience included serving as part of the trial team in a gender discrimination litigation before the Southern District of New York and serving as first chair in a labor arbitration matter for the City of New York.  She joined Morgan Lewis & Bockius’ Labor and Employment Law Group in 2007, where she worked for 6 years representing and providing advice and counsel to employers on a wide range of issues including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, compensation, and reductions in force, primarily in the financial services industry.  During a portion of her time at Morgan Lewis, she was placed on a dedicated assignment at Moody’s Corporation, where she was introduced to the world of in-house legal counsel.  She then went in-house to Barclays in the role of Vice President, Employment, Incentives and Pensions.  At Barclays, Alli provided employment law advice and guidance to its private wealth management and credit card businesses.  Her scope of work spanned across the US and included managing wage and hour litigation and revamping the US compensation structure for financial advisors to align with UK regulatory requirements.  She worked at Barclays for 4 years.  Alli joined Facebook in September 2017 as its employment lawyer responsible for the North America operations of its global sales and marketing business.  Her role at Facebook brought new opportunities, including bringing an FLSA case before the 7th Circuit on interlocutory appeal, providing employment law support for Facebook’s Canadian operations, and partnering closely with employment counsel outside the US on employment law matters that impact the global organization.


Anne L. Clark is a partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, P.C., and concentrates on employment discrimination and other employment-related matters.  She graduated from New York University and New York University School of Law.  Prior to joining Vladeck, she served as Law Clerk to Honorable Raymond J. Pettine of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island and was a Skadden Fellow/Staff Attorney with the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she worked on employment-related matters.  Ms. Clark has been an adjunct faculty member at Fordham University School of Law and has lectured on employment matters for a variety of organizations.  She is a former member of NELA/NY's Executive Board.


Cassaundra Manning is an Executive Director and Associate Counsel at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., where she provides full service global employment law advice and support.  Among her responsibilities, Cassaundra counsels Human Resources professionals and business managers on all aspects of employment-related legal issues, oversees and conducts internal investigations, handles administrative claims and manages employment litigation, and develops policies to ensure that Estée Lauder is current and compliant with varied legal and business requirements.  Concurrently, Cassaundra manages litigation in connection with unique consumer discrimination claims, including claims pertaining to Estée Lauder’s online presence.

Prior to joining Estée Lauder, Cassaundra served as the sole in-house labor and employment attorney at The Guardian Life Insurance Company.  Before Guardian, Cassaundra practiced labor and employment law at Holland & Knight and Littler Mendelson, and commenced her legal career as an Agency Attorney at the New York City Department of Education.

Cassaundra received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and earned a bachelors from Columbia College, Columbia University.


Christie is a Founding Partner in Cerasia & Del Rey-Cone LLP. She is recognized as one of the leading labor and employment lawyers of her generation in New York.  In 2016, Chambers USA described Christie as "extremely smart" and quoted sources as saying that she "knows the law but is also very business-minded."  Chambers also stated that Christie is an "experienced litigator" who also is noted for providing clients with employment counseling and human resources training.  In 2015, Chambers noted that Christie is "a very well-rounded attorney, has great experience and covers a broad range of subjects.” Clients also observed that “she's very smart and very practical. She definitely gives me the sense that she's going above and beyond on my cases."  While in 2014, Chambers USA noted that clients commend Christie for her ability to"figure out what's really needed and what the most direct line from A to B is, to help you get the result you want in a reasonable manner."  Chambers first recognized Christie in 2007, when it named her as the only “Associate to Watch” in New York for labor and employment.  In 2012, she was one of Chambers USA’s five finalists for its national “Up and Coming” Female Employment Lawyer of the Year award.

As a full service employment lawyer, Christie represents clients in a broad range of federal and state court litigation and arbitrations, employment counseling, and human resource training. Her litigation experience includes, among other matters, complex discrimination, harassment and retaliation suits, and class/collective wage and hour actions for both employers and employees.

Her counseling experience includes terminations, employee classifications (e.g., exempt/non-exempt; independent contractor/employee), whistleblower issues and restrictive covenants. Christie regularly manages internal investigations into employee misconduct and advises clients involved in questions of wrongdoing or the initiating of complaints. She has substantial experience conducting wage/hour and employee classification audits in several industries and preparing human resources policies and handbooks.

Christie also spends time leading employment law training programs on topics such as conducting internal investigations, proper classification of employees, compliance with reasonable accommodation laws, and anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies and best practices.

Christie has a genuine passion for labor and employment law, and attributes much of her success to being well-mentored both by the federal magistrate judge for whom she clerked after law school and the partners with whom she worked closely as a partner and associate at some of the world’s most prestigious law firms. What Christie most enjoys in her practice is that the nature of employment law involves solving problems for clients and dealing with people in a context of life that, for many, defines them – their livelihood.

Before entering private practice, she clerked for U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay of the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Christie is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and before the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits, all the U. S. District Courts in New York, the U. S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Christie received her law degree from Seton Hall University Law School in 2002, where she was the Notes and Comments Editor for the Constitutional Law Journal, and her undergraduate degree in Sociology and American Studies from Franklin & Marshall College in 1999.  Christie now proudly serves as a member of F&M's Alumni Leadership Council.

Christie has become infusing mediation into her practice and has been appointed as a Special Master for the NY Appellate Division, First Department.  She has also begun her training to become a mediator on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York mediator panel.

She also enjoys serving as a fitness instructor at the Bar Method Noho and is the co-host of the From Where She Sits podcast.


Devjani is a Shareholder in Littler’s New York office, where she advises management regarding all aspects of the employer-employee relationship.  She is a member of Littler’s COVID-19 Task Force and Return to Work Initiative.  Prior to joining Littler, Devjani spent almost seven years as the primary in-house employment counsel for a global biotechnology company serving patients in more than 50 countries.

Devjani works with companies of all sizes, from startups to multinational corporations, on a full range of complex workforce challenges, including planning and performing transactional due diligence, workforce integration and business restructuring; building corporate compliance and ethics programs, performing employment practices audits and managing internal investigations; supporting stakeholders in capturing best practices for recruiting, contracting, alternative staffing, performance management, and discipline; and addressing employee requests for flexible work, accommodation and military, medical and family leaves of absence.  Devjani is also an experienced employment litigator, and regularly represents management in federal and state courts and agencies.

Devjani received her B.A. in Political Science with distinction from Yale University and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.  She is a regular presenter on employment law topics at the Practising Law Institute, the American Bar Association and in other forums.


Keisha-Ann G. Gray is a partner in the Labor & Employment Department in the New York office of Proskauer Rose LLP, specializing in employment litigation and arbitration. She serves as the co-head of the Policies, Handbooks & Training Practice Group at Proskauer. As a seasoned trial counsel and litigator, Keisha-Ann draws from her experiences in the courtroom before juries to help inform her clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, on issues pertinent to employment law and complaint prevention.

Keisha-Ann graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. She received a J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1998. Prior to joining Proskauer in 2007, Keisha-Ann was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York and a former federal law clerk, having served two years in the Chambers of the Honorable Jaime Pieras Jr., Senior Judge in the District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

Keisha-Ann has been recognized by The Legal 500 US, The Network Journal, The New York Law Journal’s Rising Stars and YWCA of New York’s Academy of Women Leaders as a leading labor and employment attorney. Additionally, Keisha-Ann frequently speaks and writes on trial practice and employment discrimination defense matters; she is the resident Legal Clinic Columnist for Human Resources Executive Online Magazine and a contributor to the SHRM Blog. Keisha-Ann is also a member of the Board of Directors of Practicing Attorneys for Law Students “Pals,” which enhances the careers of minority law students.


Melissa C. Rodriguez advises clients on the full spectrum of labor and employment law matters. This includes single-plaintiff, class, and collective action litigation (both wage and hour and discrimination claims); wage and hour and other employment counseling; traditional labor work. In her litigation practice, she represents employers in individual, class, and collective action litigation, and in administrative agency actions concerning federal and state labor and employment statutes. Her clients hail from sectors including the retail, airline, transportation, food services and financial services industries.

In her litigation practice, Melissa handles all aspects of a dispute. She presents oral arguments to US federal and state courts (including jury trials), and second-chaired a multiplaintiff litigation in federal court. She has defended employers as first- and second-chair in forums such as the American Arbitration Association, and the National Association of Securities Dealers Inc. (now known as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA). She also represents employers under investigation by administrative agencies, including the US Department of Labor, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and local and state agencies.

Melissa has experience with a host of federal and state labor and employment statutes. These include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Railway Labor Act, New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), New York Labor Law, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

In addition to her litigation background, Melissa has advised clients with respect to compliance with the requirements of the FLSA and state law wage and hour requirements. Melissa also has conducted a number of comprehensive internal wage and hour audits to assist clients in properly classifying workers as employees or independent contractors or exempt or nonexempt employees and to revise other wage and hour practices as necessary. She has also represented clients in federal and state Department of Labor audits and negotiated favorable settlements of violations.

Clients also turn to Melissa for counseling on harassment claims, the accommodation of employee disabilities, employee disciplinary issues, and termination decisions. She leads internal investigations into harassment and discrimination claims, and provides harassment and diversity training.

Melissa also routinely counsels employers with operations in Puerto Rico and represents employers in federal litigation and administrative matters in Puerto Rico.

Melissa has served as a faculty member at the Fordham Law School Summer Institute teaching an Employment Law course. While in law school, Melissa externed with Judge Sonia Sotomayor at the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Columbia Law School, 2001, J.D.

Yale University, 1998, B.A., magna cum laude, with honors


Neil Rosolinsky is Deputy General Counsel, Litigation & Employment for Citizens Financial Group.  He leads the litigation and employment functions overseeing all litigation, including employment litigation and contentious regulatory matters.  Neil regularly manages outside counsel on CFG’s larger litigation matters and routinely counsels executives across various business lines regarding litigation strategy and employment law matters.

Immediately prior to joining CFG, following its spinoff from RBS via IPO, Neil served as Head of Employment Law for RBS Americas, managing both RBS and CFG employment law teams.

Neil has been named in-house employment counsel of the year, and separately to the Top 100 In-House counsel list, by Legal 500.

Before going in-house in 2008, Neil was with Reed Smith LLP in the firm’s New York office focusing on both employment litigation and counseling as well as commercial litigation.

Neil earned his undergraduate degree from NYU and his law degree from GW. 


Nicholas H. Sikon is a partner at Outten & Golden LLP in New York, where he represents employees in litigation and negotiation in all areas of employment law. Mr. Sikon focuses his practice on matters involving compensation and professional contracts, whistleblowers, and individual discrimination and harassment claims. He also advises employees with respect to disability and family and medical leave-related issues. Mr. Sikon is active in both Outten & Golden’s Financial Services Practice Group and its Whistleblower and Retaliation Practice Group. He is also a member of Outten & Golden’s Executive and Professionals and Discrimination and Retaliation Practice Groups.

Prior to joining the firm in August 2015, Mr. Sikon was an associate with a large defense firm, where he represented employers across a wide-spectrum of industries in all aspects of employment law. In this role, he worked with employers across the country, counseling them with respect to complex employment transactions and defending them in litigation in federal and state court. Mr. Sikon also has significant experience representing clients in arbitration matters before FINRA, AAA, and JAMS concerning employment and general commercial litigation disputes.

Mr. Sikon received his J.D. from the George Washington University Law School in 2009, and his B.A. from Macalester College in 2004. He is a member of the Labor and Employment Law Sections of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association, as well as the National Employment Lawyers Association and its New York affiliate NELA/NY.


Raechel L. Adams is currently Acting Assistant General Counsel for the Office of General Counsel (OGC) of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Ms. Adams previous served as a Supervisory Trial Attorney in the New York District Office (EEOC), where she worked in the Legal Unit from 1999 until December 2019. After working as a Trial Attorney for 11 years, Ms. Adams was appointed to serve as Acting Supervisory Trial Attorney in 2010, Supervisory Trial Attorney in 2012, and Acting Regional Attorney in 2015. In October 2017, Ms. Adams also joined EEOC’s Litigation Management Services, where she assists the Office of General Counsel in field coordination matters. In this capacity, she is responsible for implementing and improving OGC information systems and guidance materials for the field. Ms. Adams works with EEOC litigators nationwide to facilitate sharing of internal work product, litigation best practices, and institutional knowledge. 

Ms. Adams has litigated and supervised litigation of employment discrimination cases for the EEOC throughout New York State, New Jersey and New England, including enforcement actions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Ms. Adams has litigated several notable class and systemic cases during her tenure with the New York District Office, including EEOC v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, a pattern-or-practice case involving sex discrimination in pay and promotions, EEOC and the United States v. New York State Department of Correctional Services, an Equal Pay Act case involving a discriminatory policy of switching female employees from paid workers’ compensation to unpaid maternity leave, EEOC v. Bloomberg LP., a global sex/pregnancy pay discrimination case, EEOC v. Carrols Corp., a nationwide sexual harassment case, EEOC v. FAPS, a race discrimination in hiring case, EEOC v. Princeton Healthcare Sys., a fixed-leave policy case filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and EEOC v. Day & Zimmermann NPS, an Americans with Disabilities Act retaliation and interference case. Ms. Adams supervised a three-week jury trial in EEOC v. Texas Roadhouse, a nationwide age discrimination in hiring case, which, after the jury deadlocked, resulted in a $12M public settlement.

Ms. Adams served as the New York District representative on the EEOC’s National Diversity and Inclusion Council. She has also participated as a mentor in EEOC’s mentoring program. Before working in New York, Ms. Adams worked in EEOC’s Headquarters in Washington, DC, in the Systemic Litigation Services group.  Ms. Adams graduated from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University and Washington University in St. Louis.


Raph is the chief employment counsel at S&P Global, where he oversees employment law matters globally for a company of approximately 20,000 employees.  His practice covers advice on the full range of employment matters from hiring to separations and everything in between, including diversity and inclusion initiatives, and oversight of employment matters around the globe.

Raph received his J.D., cum laude, from New York University and a B.A. in philosophy, magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania. Raph previously served as in-house employment counsel with Marsh & McLennan Companies and AIG, and was in private practice at Davis & Gilbert and Proskauer Rose before then. 


Reena I. Desai is a partner at the law firm of Nichols Kaster, PLLP, in the firm’s Minneapolis office.  She is a skilled and meticulous litigator who has represented thousands of employees in class and collective actions to recover unpaid wages. Reena has also handled individual cases involving a range of discrimination and retaliation issues. 

Reena is a frequent speaker on wage and hour topics as well as class action discovery issues.  She also serves as a board member for the Minnesota Justice Foundation, a legal non-profit in Minnesota, and has been named a Rising Star for the last 4 consecutive years by Minnesota Super Lawyers.  

Reena graduated from University of Minnesota Law School in 2007, where she was honored with the Dorothy O. Lareau award for writing during her first year. She also earned a B.A. in Economics and Psychology in 2002 from George Washington University. 


William J. Anthony is Co-Chair of Jackson Lewis P.C. and is responsible for the entire firm's day-to-day administration and management.

Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Anthony joined the San Francisco office of Jackson Lewis. He transferred to the firm's Morristown office in 1991, the Hartford office in 2000, and moved to the Albany office in 2012. While at the Hartford office, Mr. Anthony served as Managing Partner from 2000 to 2008.

Class and Collective Action Experience

Mr. Anthony has handled numerous class and collective actions, including wage and hour claims alleging claims for improper payment of bonuses, misclassification of customer service employees, dispatchers, assistant retail managers, time share resort salespeople, pharmaceutical sales representatives and installation technicians and failure to pay minimum wage to tipped employees. Mr. Anthony has handled class and/or collective actions in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, California and Washington.

Litigation Experience

Mr. Anthony has been defending employment claims for almost twenty-five years in a number of federal and state courts around the country. He has helped clients obtain many dismissals and favorable results during that time. Mr. Anthony has trial experience in several states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Montana. He has tried cases involving claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, failure to pay wages and a variety of other statutory and common law issues.

Employment Law Counseling and Training

Mr. Anthony advises clients on the full range of employment law issues and provides training on management skills, discrimination, harassment, wage/hour and disabilities management issues.


WORK EXPERIENCE

Currently Chris heads up the Labor, Employment, Benefits and Workers Compensation Group as Associate General Counsel at Con Edison in New York City.  He has spent the bulk of his career as a management-side labor and employment lawyer since 1985, with large firm and small firm experience.  His work experience has been two-fold.  There has always been a heavy focus on compliance, advising clients in all facets of this practice area (i.e. federal, state and local discrimination laws, FLSA, FMLA, NLRA, WARN, EPPA, employment contracts, executive compensation, restrictive covenants, severance agreements, reductions in force, whistleblower laws, collective bargaining negotiations), in a variety of factual situations from pre-employment through discipline and/or discharge.  Twenty years ago, Chris collaborated with a partner on the creation of a workplace EEO and harassment training presentation which is regularly updated; the presentation has been given, either alone or with a co-presenter, to numerous clients on a regular basis over the last twenty years. 

Chris is also a seasoned litigator, having represented clients in state and federal court, and before state and federal administrative agencies, in hundreds of discrimination cases.  He has been first or second chair at approximately 25 bench trials or administrative hearings and one jury trial, and first chair at over 100 labor arbitrations.  Having an active litigation practice has helped immeasurably in developing the necessary insight and analytical skill to successfully advise clients on compliance issues. 

Chris has also been active on the Volunteer Mediation Panel for the Southern District of New York since 2000, and over the past five to seven years handled 40 to 50 mediations, covering employment law, wage and hour litigation, commercial contract issues and Section 1983 cases.  He was on the District’s Mediation Advisory Committee from 2015-2018, and joined the Eastern District Panel in 2018.

Chris speaks and writes regularly on employment law issues.  He is active in leadership roles in professional associations and not-for-profit organizations, having recently been inducted as a fellow in to the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, and selected as Chair of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, with a term to begin in June 2020.


At WW, Seth has primary responsibilities in three different areas: Legal (handling all employment and litigation matters), Human Resources (serving as the dedicated HR partner for various corporate departments), and Insurance (overseeing the company’s insurance programs and policies). 

Prior to joining WW, Seth was a partner at Fox Rothschild, LLP, and worked as an associate at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP, Proskauer Rose, LLP and Grotta Glassman & Hoffman, P.A.

Seth graduated from The Hofstra University School of Law in 1997, and from The American University in 1994.  Seth also serves as an adjunct professor for The Hofstra University School of Law.


Complying with various state and local employment laws has become increasingly complex, given the patchwork of federal, state, and local laws that have developed over the years. Howie efficiently assists clients in navigating these ever-changing requirements, and defends them in litigation when challenged in court or before an administrative agency.

Howie's practice includes the representation of management in employment litigation matters before state and federal courts, at trial and appellate levels, as well as federal and state agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, New York State Division of Human Rights, and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. In this role, Howie has extensive experience defending both single and multi-plaintiff discrimination/harassment cases, class and/or collective actions, as well as lawsuits initiated by the EEOC. He has represented employers in class and collective actions and multi-plaintiff claims involving discrimination/harassment on the basis of age, race, gender, national origin, and other protected classifications as well as whistleblower actions, including under New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act. His wage-and-hour experience includes the defense of major class action claims involving meal breaks, rest breaks, misclassification, and work-off-the-clock allegations.

Howie also counsels employers on preventative practices to minimize workplace disputes, including advising employers on issues relating to personnel handbooks and policies, employee relations, internal complaints and investigations, FMLA and ADA issues, as well as other employment issues which employers face routinely. He provides training for attorneys, executives, human resources professionals, and managers on best EEO practices, preventing sexual harassment, and avoiding employment litigation claims. Howie also defends clients in lawsuits arising under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and related New York state and New York City disability access laws.

Howie's experience both as a traditional labor attorney and employment litigator gives him a unique perspective on the challenges that employers face in trying to manage a complex workforce in the 21st century. Howie understands that in the ever-changing global economy, companies have highly individualized needs. He takes the time at the beginning of an engagement to get to know his clients' objectives before charting a path for them.

Howie enjoys working alongside his Seyfarth colleagues, who are as passionate about the world of work as he is.


Dana Sussman is Deputy Commissioner for Intergovernmental Affairs and Policy at the NYC Commission on Human Rights, where she coordinates the Commission’s policy, regulatory, adjudicatory, and legislative work. Dana has testified over a dozen times before the NYC Council and the New York State legislature, and has overseen the development and publication of all of the Commission’s legal enforcement guidance documents in the past five years, including enforcement guidance on disability discrimination and accommodations, which was published in July 2016.

Prior to joining the Commission in March 2015, Dana was a Senior Staff Attorney in the Anti-Trafficking Program at Safe Horizon, where she represented victims of trafficking in civil litigation, criminal justice advocacy, and immigration relief. Dana was formerly an Associate at Outten & Golden LLP representing employees in wage and hour cases and gender, pregnancy, disability, and LGBTQ discrimination matters. After graduating from Northeastern University School of Law, Dana clerked for Magistrate Judge Orenstein in the Eastern District of New York and served as a Legal Fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Dana holds a B.A. and MPH from Tufts University.


Stephen P. Sonnenberg, Esq. has deep experience in understanding and resolving complex labor and employment disputes. Mr. Sonnenberg’s unique background, which allows him to understand both plaintiff and defendant concerns, comes from the practice of law, experience as a mediator, and prior experience as a psychotherapist. Mr. Sonnenberg is known for his attention to detail, thoughtful approach to emotion-laden disputes, and demeanor conducive to settlement.

Mr. Sonnenberg practiced labor and employment law at the highest levels for 25 years at Paul Hastings, a prominent AMLAW 100 firm, and achieved a prestigious ranking from Chambers USA, within the Labor & Employment band. Leadership roles at the firm included a term as Chair of the New York Employment Law Practice (2014-2017), Vice Chair of the Employment Law Department (International) (2003-2014) and Co-Chair of the Employment Law Department’s national wage and hour law practice (2005-2014). Resident for an equal amount of time in the firm’s Los Angeles and New York offices, Mr. Sonnenberg represented and advised clients in a wide range of employment disputes, including wage and hour class and collective actions, retaliation, wrongful discharge, restrictive covenant, discrimination and harassment lawsuits. He has also overseen and conducted privileged internal investigations in response to complaints of misconduct.

Mr. Sonnenberg has mediated numerous matters not only at JAMS but as a member of the Mediation Panels of the U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. He has taught employment law to members of the federal judiciary through the Federal Judicial Center, has provided employment law training and advice in a variety of settings, and is an adjunct faculty member at Cardozo Law School.

Before practicing law, Mr. Sonnenberg devoted himself to a 15-year career as a clinical social worker in Michigan and California. Mr. Sonnenberg worked in diverse psychiatric settings and community organizations, assisting individuals with a wide range of emotional, vocational and financial challenges, including facilitating the resolution of disputes with family members, employers and other third parties.  Settings included psychiatric hospitals, a community mental health center, and the private practice of psychotherapy working with individuals, couples and families.


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.


Susan Ritz has practiced employment law since 1985.  She is a partner in the Manhattan law firm of Ritz Clark & Ben-Asher LLP.  Ms. Ritz handles all forms of employment-related matters, including advising employees and partners regarding their rights, duties and entitlement to benefits; handling contract, severance agreement and partnership dispute negotiations; and representing employees and partners in negotiations, mediations, administrative proceedings, arbitrations and lawsuits encompassing a full panoply of employment-related issues, with special emphasis on claims of unlawful harassment, retaliation and employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, national origin, age, disability, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and other protected classes.  

Ms. Ritz provides neutral mediation services, and conducts impartial internal investigations on behalf of employers into alleged discriminatory conduct.  She also advises non-profits and small employers on employment-related issues, reviews and revises Staff Manuals for employers, and represents employers in contract and severance negotiations.  She offers harassment and discrimination prevention training to management and employees, as well.

Ms. Ritz is listed in The Best Lawyers in America (20+ years), Super Lawyers (14 years) and Law Dragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers. She is rated AV by Martindale Hubbell and was selected for its 2011 Inaugural Edition of the Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers.  AVVO gives her a rating of 10 out of 10.  She is also a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and a member of the Litigation Counsel of America. Ms. Ritz has published articles and lectured widely, including for the National Employment Lawyers Association/NY, ALI-CLE, American Bar Association, Practising Law Institute, New York State Bar Association, New York City Bar Association, the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, and at CUNY School of Law.  She serves as a pro bono mediator for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.